Date: Saturday Feb. 21st 2015 17:30 BST
Venue: Etihad Stadium Manchester
Photos: Richard Tucker
Manchester City hit top form and trounced a poor Newcastle side to move back within five points of leaders Chelsea on a bitterly cold evening at The Etihad. Goals from Sergio Aguero, Samir Nasri, Edin Dzeko and David Silva (2) emphasised the gulf between the two sides. City could have added at least a couple more with more ruthless finishing, and if the referee had awarded any of the three penalty appeals.
Buoyed by Chelsea dropping points at home to Burnley (that levels up our slip up on Dec 28th), City set about Newcastle from the off, winning a penalty in the first minute when Dzeko was felled by Anita’s clumsy challenge. Sergio Aguero despatched the spot kick with a minimum of fuss and victory looked inevitable from that moment. City’s delightful football had a real purpose about it which proved irresistible, and it was 2-0 in the 12th minute when Dzeko squared to Nasri, who deftly cushioned the ball with his left foot before firing an unstoppable eight yard shot into the roof of the net.
City played beautiful, incisive football, and could not have had more compliant opponents than Newcastle who, in contrast to sides of lesser ability like Hull and Burnley, just melted away with barely a whimper. A Janmaat effort that sailed wide of Joe Hart’s right hand post, a deflected effort that ended up going well wide and a Sissoko skied shot was the sum total of their efforts in the first half. City had the freedom of the park to create chances at will, and that is a big mistake with City in this form.
Dzeko was given acres of room to turn but fired over early on. The Bosnian was having a good game and Aguero fired wide from his cross after a clever Zabaleta dummy.
It was performance to savour from City, with Yaya Toure bringing calmness, control and composure to the team. He frequently dropped between the two centre halves to gather the ball and start attacks, and he controlled the game.
The Man of the Match, though, was David Silva and he played a sumptuous lofted pass into the path of the onrushing Dzeko, who chested the ball on the run and half volleyed superbly past Krul to make it 3-0. There was barely 22 minutes on the clock!
It would have been four by half time if referee Chris Foy had awarded a penalty for a clear pull back on Dzeko, but nothing was awarded. Are players really expected to go down to win anything nowadays? It really is time that referees came out of their bunker and explained themselves. On another occasion it would have changed the fate of a game and indeed a title or cup.