By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Club Reporter
At the Etihad Stadium
Manchester City 3 (Balotelli 41pen, Richards 44, Aguero 72)
Newcastle United 1 (Gosling 89)
Newcastle United suffered their first Premier League defeat of the season as they slipped to a 3-1 defeat away at table-toppers Manchester City.
Goals from Mario Balotelli, Micah Richards and Sergio Aguero gave the hosts a deserved win, but the Magpies may feel a touch aggrieved at the scoreline, having created some good chances of their own and been far from outplayed, with only a late Dan Gosling strike to show for their endeavours.
Ultimately, it was two efforts late in the first half which made life tough for United, as Balotelli stroked home a penalty and Richards capitalised on a slip with the interval approaching.
Aguero added another from the spot after the restart and Gosling tapped in from close range for the visitors with time running out, but Newcastle will point to a couple of attempts from Demba Ba, and Hatem Ben Arfa hitting the woodwork as a sign of what might have been.
After some heavy early pressure, the home side created the first chance on nine minutes. Yaya Toure spread he ball out to the right flank where full-back Richards had powered forward.
The defender took a touch before volleying a low cross into the heart of the penalty area, which United's rearguard managed to scramble clear just before Balotelli could apply the decisive touch from a couple of yards.
The hosts continued to press and Argentine forward Aguero spun neatly on the edge of the box before firing narrowly over the bar, while Nigel de Jong saw a fierce long range strike blocked before it caused any real danger.
In between those chances, it had taken Newcastle 26 minutes to carve out anything of note, and it came from the boot of teenager Sammy Ameobi.
Making his full debut in the black and white stripes, Ameobi exchanged passes with Danny Simpson, before cuting in from the right and driling and low cross-cum-shot into the arms of City keeper Joe Hart.
But it was straight back down the other end and in the 29th minute Tim Krul came to the Magpies' rescue with an outstanding stop to deny Balotelli. The striker had risen above Steven Taylor to plant a firm header goalwards, but Krul stuck up a hand to somehow tip over the bar to safety.
Despite spending much of the first half on the back foot, Newcastle proved they could match the visitors going forwards. On 33 minutes some neat footwork by Ben Arfa created space on the edge of the box, and as he shaped to shoot the Frenchman instead slipped the ball into the path of Ba.
United's top scorer took his chance instantly and struck towards the bottom corner, only to be denied by the fingertops of a full-length Hart.
Minutes later Ba was given another opportunity to break the deadlock, but could only head Yohan Cabaye's right wing corner well wide of the upright.
Just as it looked as though the visitors were coming into the contest, City broke the deadlock on 41 minutes from the penalty spot. As Newcastle failed to clear their lines, Toure controlled the loose ball on his thigh and fired goalwards, with his effort striking the arm of Ryan Taylor.
Referee Chris Foy had no hesitation in pointing to the spot, and Balotelli produced a cool finish, slotting past Krul into the bottom right corner of the net.
Things went from bad to worse for United three minutes later. Ryan Taylor midsjudged a ball into the area from Sergio Aguero, and Richards nipped in to plant a strike past Krul and double the lead on the stroke of half-time.
Into the second period and City continued where they had left off - determined to put te game out of sight.
In the 57th minute, a neat give-and-go between Samir Nasri and Aguero saw Krul forced to come racing off his line. And although Aguero dinked the ball over the keeper from a tight angle, Steven Taylor as on hand to hook away with Balotelli lurking.
But still Newcastle would not lie down. Ben Arfa tricked his way through the challenges of Vincent Kompany and Nigel de Jong before placing a shot against the foot of the post. And then, after City had scrambled the ball behind, the resulting corner saw captain Fabricio Coloccini volley just wide through a body of players.
In the 67th minute, Newcastle were again inches away from halving the deficit. Danny Guthrie skipped clear down the left, made his way into the box and struck low and hard across the face of goal. But Hart managed to get a hand to the ball and divert it just out of reach of Steven Taylor, who was sliding in behind.
But, just as it had been in the first half, Newcastle's good spell was instantly followed by a Manchester City goal, and it came again courtesy of a penalty.
Richards burst down the right into the box, only for Ben Arfa - attempting to get back and win possession - to bundle the full-back over from behind. Again, Mr Foy had little choice but to award a spot kick, with Aguero doing the honours this time.
Newcastle grabbed a consolation with a minute remaining through substitute Gosling. Fellow replacement James Perch played a ball through the City back-line, and although Ba was unable to prod past Hart, the loose ball fell to Gosling to tap home his first goal for the club.
But the visitors were not able to produce a grandstand finish and ended up tasting league defeat for the first time this season.
Manchester City (4-2-3-1): Joe Hart; Micah Richards, Vincent Kompany (c), Joleon Lescott, Gael Clichy; Nigel de Jong, Yaya Toure (Gareth Barry 84); James Milner, Sergio Aguero (Adam Johnson 75), Samir Nasri; Mario Balotelli (David Silva 69)
Subs not used: Costel Pantilimon, Aleksandar Kolarov, Kolo Toure, Edin Dzeko
Newcastle United (4-4-1-1): Tim Krul; Danny Simpson, Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini, Ryan Taylor; Sammy Ameobi (Dan Gosling 78), Yohan Cabaye (James Perch 85), Danny Guthrie, Jonas Gutierrez; Hatem Ben Arfa (Peter Lovenkrands 76); Demba Ba
Referee: Chris Foy (Lancashire)
Attendance: 47, 408