Manchester City moved three points clear at the top of the Premier League table with a convincing 5-0 thrashing of Newcastle at the Etihad Stadium.
First-half goals from Raheem Sterling and Aymeric Laporte ensured Pep Guardiola’s side settled any pre-match nerves relatively early to take advantage of Liverpool’s slip up against Tottenham as they shrugged off their midweek Champions League setback in style.
Rodri added the third goal on the hour mark from Kevin De Bruyne’s corner before substitute Phil Foden and Sterling with his second of the game underlined their dominance as City produced an emphatic second-half performance in the Manchester sunshine.
Manchester City: Ederson (7), Cancelo (8), Dias (7), Laporte (7), Zinchenko (8), Rodri (8), De Bruyne (9), Gundogan (8), Sterling (9), Jesus (7) , Grealish (8).
Subs: Fernandinho (7), Foden (7), Egan-Riley (n/a).
Newcastle: Dubravka (4), Krafth (5), Lascelles (5), Burn (5), Targett (5), Longstaff (6), Joelinton (6), Guimaraes (6), Almiron (5), Wood (5), Saint-Maximin (6).
Subs: Wilson (5), Trippier (6), Murphy (6).
Man of the game: Kevin DeBruyne.
The dramatic defeat to Real Madrid provided an intriguing backdrop to the game and Newcastle did have chances early on – the best falling to Chris Wood.
But City created chances throughout and they now have some margin for error, knowing that two wins and a draw from their remaining games will be enough to retain the title.
Newcastle, with Callum Wilson and Kieran Trippier both making their return from injury off the bench, missed the chance to move into the top half of the table and remain in 13th position.
Pep Guardiola made four changes from the defeat to Real Madrid. Jack Grealish, Raheem Sterling, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Ilkay Gundogan all returned as Kyle Walker, Bernardo Silva, Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden stepped aside.
Eddie Howe made three changes as Chris Wood came back in as his focal point in attack with Joelinton in midfield. Jamaal Lascelles replaced Fabian Schar while Sean Longstaff replaced Jonjo Shelvey. Among the subs were Callum Wilson and Kieran Trippier.
How Man City won the game
On reflection, Wood’s headed chance after eight minutes was a key moment in the game. With Joelinton free behind him, the striker could only nod the ball softly to Ederson. It was a bad miss.
Thereafter, City’s opening goal was coming, Laporte skying one volley before Joao Cancelo spurned a similarly inviting opportunity from Oleksandr Zinchenko’s cross.
Cancelo did rather better for Sterling’s goal, finding the forward from Ilkay Gundogan’s raking pass on the diagonal, with the England man doing the rest from close in.
Newcastle did almost have an equalizer immediately through Wood but Bruno Guimaraes had been offside when making contact with Jamaal Lascelles’ initial header from the corner.
But when Martin Dubravka failed to grasp Gundogan’s fierce shot from distance, being beaten to the rebound by Ruben Dias before Laporte forced home, the result felt inevitable.
City had, of course, surrendered a two-goal lead to Real Madrid, but there was to be no repeat, Rodri nodding in at the near post to make it three on the hour as Newcastle retreated at the start of the second half.
The best Newcastle chance fell to the rusty Wilson as Ederson saved well with the striker clean through, but it was Foden who had his say, sweeping in Zinchenko’s cross-shot after good work by Jack Grealish.
And the last word went to Sterling, latching onto Grealish’s pass to make it five in stoppage time.
The loss of Dias to injury at half-time was the only disappointment for the home side, with Guardiola confirming afterwards that his season is over.
Fortunately for City, despite Guardiola’s insistence before kick-off that they still need to win all of their games to claim the title, the reality is that they now have wiggle room in this race.
Analysis: Man City in full control of the title race
Asked on Friday afternoon, what response he expected from his players, Pep Guardiola told Sky Sports“I think we are going to perform well. I know we are going to play like who we are. We are going to try to win the game, playing our best, that is for sure.”
There were some worrying moments early on and who knows what frailties might have been exposed had Chris Wood done better with a free header from close range after eight minutes. But what followed was an exhibition that underlined why City are top again.
With Jack Grealish and Joao Cancelo providing the width, Raheem Sterling bringing the incision, Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan sprayed the ball around the Etihad. Even when the tempo dipped in the second half, it was too much for Newcastle to handle.
The mood in the stands, supportive from the outset, felt like it had been helped by the result at Anfield the previous evening. That knowledge that City were no longer in a win or bust scenario took a little of the sting out of the fixture and gave them some freedom.
It was all that they needed. Away games against Wolves and West Ham might not be straightforward. But four points from those two fixtures will now be enough to ensure that City can return here on the final day knowing victory will guarantee them the title.
Man City’s win in stats
- Manchester City have beaten Newcastle 28 times in the Premier League, now the outright most they have beaten any side in the competition.
- Newcastle are winless in 32 Premier League away games against teams starting the day inside the top two places in the table – they have lost each of their last 17 such matches.
- Eddie Howe has lost all 12 of his Premier League meetings with Manchester City, the worst 100 per cent losing record a manager has against a single opponent in the competition.
- Raheem Sterling scored his 50th and 51st Premier League goals for Man City at the Etihad Stadium, becoming only the second player to reach this total after Sergio Agüero (106).
- Joao Cancelo provided his 10th assist of the season. Man City are the only team in Europe’s big five leagues to have four or more different players reach 10 assists in all competitions.
Guardiola: Crowd helped | Defensive issues
“Just before the start of the game, I felt the crowd were disappointed but not grumpy and upset about who we are as a team. Three more points and three left, one competition to play. Our destiny is in our hands, win our games and we will be there.”
Guardiola confirmed after the game that Dias will miss the rest of the season through injury, with Kyle Walker and John Stones also unavailable for the remaining matches. “We have just three defenders for these three games, but we will try to do it.”
Fernandinho deputized at the back in the second half and can be expected to be called upon against Wolves on Wednesday night for a game that he described as a final. Asked how important the veteran Brazilian will be, Guardiola said: “I would say a lot.”
He added: “Otherwise I will have to play CJ [Egan-Riley] or Luke Mbete, but in this situation, it is not a problem. If Rodri has to play [at centre-back he will]. We have the academy. We have 13 players plus academy. It is what it is.”
Howe: We had the first big chance
“Manchester City can do that to anyone, they are that good. I thought the crowd were very good for them, it was a very good atmosphere.
“We lost a runner for the first goal and we concede from two set-plays. When you consider all the ways they can score that is a no-no.
“Whenever you come here, you know you are going to concede chances. We had the first big chance of the game, unfortunately we did not take it.”
Grealish: We’re in the driving seat
Manchester City’s “perfect” response to their agonizing Champions League exit has put them in the driving seat in the Premier League title run-in, says midfielder Jack Grealish.
“We always knew there was going to be pressure on us, especially after midweek,” Grealish said. “We bounced back perfectly. We stuck together as a unit, which was needed.
“Fingers crossed, we have to go back and work hard as we have another huge game on Wednesday.”
Grealish said the victory against an in-form Newcastle side was all the most important after Liverpool were held to a 1-1 draw by Tottenham Hotspur.
“We played against a good Newcastle team who have been brilliant since January. Today was the perfect response and perfect performance,” Grealish, who made a late assist for Sterling, added.
“We just have to go out there and win every game ourselves, we’re in the driving seat. We can’t look at what is going on around us. We just have to go and win every game.”
What’s next for Manchester City & Newcastle?
Manchester City continue their bid for a second successive Premier League title at Wolves on Wednesday, live on Sky Sports; kick off 8.15pm. Pep Guardiola’s side are back on the road the following Sunday for a trip to West Ham, live on Sky Sports; kick-off at 2pm.
Newcastle welcome Arsenal to St James’ Park for Monday Night Soccer, live on Sky Sports, as the Gunners fight for Champions League qualification; kick-off at 8pm. Eddie Howe’s side face relegation-threatened Burnley on the final day of the Premier League season at Turf Moor; kick-off at 4pm.
Man City fixture schedule
wednesday – Wolves (a) Premier League, live on Sky Sports
May 15 – West Ham (a) Premier League, live on Sky Sports
May 22 – Aston Villa (h) Premier League