Newcastle 1-3 City

Laurence Griffiths

Perhaps it is no coincidence that as the gap at the top of the table was extended and accordingly expectations were slightly reduced, so City came out and put on a 1st half performance to match anything they have produced this campaign...

As the overwhelmed defenders in black and white flitted around attempting to put out the fires created through some sizzling interplay, there was great satisfaction to be gleaned from a stirring response to the Derby setback. With Nasri proving his worth before injury, finally adding some sting to go with his floaty prompts and the Argentine duo in harmony up front City were too hot for the out of form hosts. David Silva had his dancing shoes on tucking in from the left and Yaya Toure was the totemic presence that has no equal in the EPL.

Not that City had it all their own way of course. Newcastle’s direct approach asked questions of a back line missing the reassuring figure of Vincent Kompany. Joe Hart had to be alert on a number of occasions inside the first 10 minutes and the Geordie faithful rallied their team into a spirited 2nd half performance that was only extinguished when Toure diverted the ball through the legs of Krul with 20 minutes remaining. Before then, Demba Ba had continued his fine season with a bullet header after a hopeful punt into the box from Coloccini saw Aguero and Clichy slow to push out from their defensive positions following a corner moments earlier. That City were able to regroup and kick back against the increasing pressure to seal the victory spoke volumes of their collective mental strength. This team knows how to respond to a setback. Once the two-goal advantage was restored City were able to relax and had substitute Dzeko and Aguero been more accurate in their approach play and finishing then the deficit could have been even greater.

Special mention must go to Javi Garcia whose performance was a marked improvement on his last outing in a blue shirt. There is no question that the Spaniard has struggled with the pace and intensity of the EPL to date, but this goal will hopefully boost his confidence and ensure that the bedding-in period comes to an end ahead of Yaya’s departure in January. Although David Santon’s goalline defending was comical for the crucial 2nd goal, the leap and aerial power in evidence from Garcia was further confirmation, following a similar goal on debut, that there is more potential to his all round game than the much-mourned Nigel De Jong. His overall worth to the side will be much clearer come 2013.

Yaya Toure offered the full range of his abilities in a fierce midfield match up with tiote and Anita in opposition. The Ivorian was strong, surged forward well when possible and provided a wonderful through ball from deep to allow Nasri to cleverly put the opener on a plate for Aguero. Although his form has undoubtedly dipped from the peaks of the run in last season - perhaps understandably - he is still absolutely key to this City side and will be sorely missed in the new year. His boots are big ones to fill but will provide Garcia, Milner and (if he can steer clear of injury) Rodwell with opportunities that they will have to seize to cover his absence. Honorary mention to his brother Kolo who had a fine game at centre half nice justifying the zealous chanting from the away support. Zabaleta was outstanding yet again.

Saturday's fixture at home to a struggling Reading side begins a run of matches over the festive period that are eminently winnable for Mancini's men. Sustain the performance of the 2nd half of the derby and the 1st half last Saturday and none of reading, Sunderland, Norwich or stoke will live with the Blues. As Mario's struggles continue the Tevez Aguero axis should be given full opportunity to further its 100% success rate - currently at 13 out of 13 - and give City fans a happy festive period and hope of a prosperous 2013. Man of the Match: Yaya Toure

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