Ilkay Gundogan and Ferran Torres score as Manchester City ease past Newcastle
Ilkay Gundogan and Ferran Torres struck in each half as Manchester City claimed a comfortable 2-0 win over Newcastle in the Premier League.
Gundogan put Pep Guardiola’s side ahead on a wet Boxing Day night after fine work from Raheem Sterling with 14 minutes gone at the Etihad Stadium.
Torres added the second early in the second half and Bernardo Silva hit the post as City, who face a trip to Everton on Monday, eased to victory.
Both sides were without key players following positive Covid-19 tests, with City’s Gabriel Jesus and Kyle Walker following Newcastle pair Allan Saint-Maximin and Jamaal Lascelles into self-isolation.
Not surprisingly, it was star-studded City who coped with the absences better. Again manager Pep Guardiola saw no need to rush record goalscorer Sergio Aguero into his starting line-up, naming the Argentinian on the bench as he eases back into action after knee trouble.
Steve Bruce tried to shake his Newcastle side up after their Carabao Cup quarter-final loss to Brentford. Federico Fernandez, Fabian Schar, Joelinton and Matt Ritchie came in while Callum Wilson was on the bench and Jonjo Shelvey was left out altogether.
The Magpies started positively but they failed to catch City cold and a couple of promising early attacks fizzled out. The hosts soon took control of possession and almost went ahead when Schar sliced a clearance over his own bar.
They continued to play patiently and took the lead from the first clear-cut opportunity they carved out.
Joao Cancelo played Raheem Sterling into the area with a fine ball and the England forward showed great footwork to turn inside and cut back for Gundogan to sweep home from close range.
Kevin De Bruyne went close to adding a second when Karl Darlow was forced to claw away a cross-shot from under the crossbar and the Belgian spurned an even better opportunity before the break.
Torres put the playmaker one-on-one with Darlow with a superb ball but the Newcastle keeper did well to stand up and block the shot.
Newcastle offered little but had a chance just before half-time when Miguel Almiron curled in a good cross but Joelinton did not make firm contact with his diving header.
City doubled their lead on 55 minutes after Almiron gave the ball away just outside his own box.
Cancelo pressed forward and despite a desperate attempt by Fernandez to clear his cross, the ball went straight to Torres and the Spaniard rifled in.
The hosts then threatened to take the game away from the Magpies. A cross from Torres struck Sterling in front of goal and rolled invitingly for Silva at the far post. The Portuguese raced in and unleashed a powerful strike but it rebounded off the woodwork.
Sterling also appealed for a penalty after a challenge from DeAndre Yedlin but nothing was given.
Aguero came on with 13 minutes remaining and almost immediately got on the scoresheet as Cancelo played a superb ball in behind the defence. The striker made good contact and looked certain to score but Darlow slid across the wet surface and made a brilliant block on the line.
Aguero wanted a penalty after tangling with Darlow soon after but the keeper just beat the City forward, who may also have been offside, to the ball.
Newcastle’s best effort saw Jacob Murphy test Ederson with a curling shot from distance but the Brazilian saved low to his left.