City slickers end Toon run

Newcastle's unbeaten record came to an end as Premier League leaders Manchester City eased to a 3-1 win at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

Last Updated: 19/11/11 at 18:23 Post Comment

Richards: Celebrates his goal

Richards: Celebrates his goal

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Even City's fans shared the amusement of a club that just announced losses of £194.9million being forced to announce that there would be no chips available at half-time.

The money has been spent on far more productive items though and two of the recent big-money purchases, Mario Balotelli and Sergio Aguero, both scored from the spot in between a rasping finish from home-grown defender Micah Richards, who had an outstanding afternoon.

It maintained City's 100% home record in front of a stadium record crowd, although Alan Pardew's men could justifiably feel the scoreline did not pay due reward to their own efforts, even after Dan Gosling's consolation.

It was a matter of some satisfaction on Tyneside that Newcastle should head into this three-match sequence which sees meetings with both Manchester clubs followed by an encounter with Chelsea still unbeaten.

Few thought Alan Pardew's men would still be awaiting their first loss in a fortnight's time yet the confidence that has soared with the Magpies made them think anything was possible.

And, if Demba Ba had profited during the visitors' best spell of the opening period, they might well have headed back to the north-east in even more buoyant mood.

Instead, his snap-shot after being set up by Hatem Ben Arfa was turned away by Joe Hart before he glanced a header wide from Yohan Cabaye's corner.

It was Ben Arfa's first Premier League start since he broke his leg in a challenge with Nigel de Jong in the corresponding fixture last season.

The pair have since made up from what Ben Arfa felt was a nasty tackle by De Jong and thankfully there was no hint of a repeat.

It does seem City have moved forward since then both in personnel and a more expansive style.

Yet again, they were the team carrying most of the threat and before Newcastle's purple patch, Aguero fizzed a shot over the bar and Tim Krul produced an excellent one-handed save to deny Balotelli's close range header.

The Blues were still searching for some kind of inspiration when Steven Taylor made his intervention.

He would be correct in claiming he was within close proximity of Yaya Toure's shot five minutes before the break.

However, referee Chris Foy presumably took the view that with his arm outstretched, Taylor was asking for trouble, which duly came in the form of a penalty when the ball hit him inside the box.

Never one to avoid a bit of drama, Balotelli strode slowly to the spot-kick before side-footing neatly into the bottom corner.

It was the Italian's ninth goal of the season and was celebrated with a folding of the arms and a steely stare.

Taylor's afternoon was soon to get worse as on City's next attack he tried to control Samir Nasri's through ball and turn at the same time.

All the full-back succeeded in doing was allow Richards the chance to intervene.

Mystifyingly overlooked by Fabio Capello, the full-back finished smartly and suddenly City were clear.

To their credit, Newcastle refused to let their heads drop.

But the second-half just brought more anguish in their bid to drag themselves back into the game.

First Ben Arfa drove a low shot against a post after he had nipped in to rob Vincent Kompany.

Then Fabricio Coloccini belted a volley wide after being picked out completely unmarked from Yohan Cabaye's corner.

Finally, Hart denied Guthrie, who has sped into the box and gone for the far corner from an acute angle.

Having come through those trials and tribulations unscathed, it seemed harsh that City should grab another themselves after Ben Arfa had sent Richards tumbling in the box.

With Balotelli replaced by David Silva, Aguero took over spot-kick duties and promptly sent Krul the wrong way.

The sight of Aguero and Toure hobbling off before the end would be a worry for manager Roberto Mancini with Tuesday's must-not-lose Champions League trip to Napoli looming.

And the City boss would not be too happy that Gosling's effort two minutes from time denied his side a clean sheet.

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