Manchester City gave the perfect response to their Champions League defeat as they hammered Newcastle 5-0 at Etihad Stadium. Raheem Sterling started and finished the scoring with a brace, while Aymeric Laporte, Rodri and Phi Foden added goals in between as City ran out 5-0 winners.
Questions were asked before the game about City’s mentality after such a demoralising defeat in Madrid, and some commentators thought (while some hoped), that the blues would slip up against Eddie Howe’s side.
But Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with Spurs on Saturday evening opened the door for the blues to put some daylight between the Mersey reds, and they took the opportunity with aplomb. Not only did City reclaim the top spot and move clear, but they also wiped out Liverpool’s goal difference. Having scored two more and conceded two less gives City a four-goal advantage over the reds, should it be necessary at the end of the season. Given City’s performance on Sunday, it may not be needed.
City attacked the visitors at every opportunity, but were acutely aware of the threat Newcastle posed. At it was such a threat that almost gave the Magpies the lead on 17 minutes, when Chris Wood sent a weak header towards goal that Ederson easily gobbled up. Had Wood put any sort of power in the header, it may have caused the Brazilian keeper more problems than it did, and it seemed to be the wake-up call that City needed.
Minutes later, Sterling put City in front and the blues never looked back. Ilkay Gundogan’s cross perfectly found the head of the unmarked Joao Cancelo, and his header across goal was met by Sterling, and his diving header found the back of the goal to settle the blues nerves.
With their tails firmly up and the crowd fully behind them, City pushed forward, determined to make the Magpies pay for City’s midweek collapse. So, when Laporte put the blues further ahead on 38 minutes, it seemed only a matter of time before the blues hit more and returned to the Premier League summit.
Gundogan’s shot was saved by the keeper, and both Ruben Dias and Laporte were on hand to follow up. Dias saw his shot also saved, but Laporte made no mistake, and the blues were two clear.
City effectively made the game safe on 61 minutes when Rodri headed home Kevin de Bruyne’s corner at the neat post and City were firmly on their way back to the top of the table. The blues still had some goal difference to make up, and substitute Phil Foden helped them on their way when he converted in the 90th minute.
Jack Grealish, who’d had an enjoyable afternoon after receiving several days criticism from the media, made a run down the left before finding Oleksandr Zinchenko. His first-time pass found an unmarked Foden, and the Stockport Iniesta swept home number four.
And two minutes into injury time, Sterling finished off the move of the match. Grealish’s ball to Foden on the left was returned with a cheeky back-heel. Grealish then charged forward and found Sterling, who fired home to cap off a brilliant team move that was so good, even Pep Guardiola celebrated the goal.
A four-point lead means the blues need to win two of their final three matches to be crowned champions for the second successive season. And, with goal difference to their advantage, they can afford to draw one of those games.
But Guardiola and City know they cannot rely on goal difference and will go all out to secure three wins and keep the Premier League trophy in Manchester for another year at least.
Final Score: Manchester City 5-0 Newcastle United