By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Club Reporter
At the Sports Direct Arena
Newcastle United 0
Manchester City 2 (Toure 70, 89)
Newcastle United suffered only their third home defeat of the season, as they went down 2-0 at the hands of Manchester City on Sunday.
A second half Yaya Toure brace was all that separated the sides at the Sports Direct Arena, as the Magpies put up a brave fight against the Premier League leaders but were unable to come away with anything to show for their efforts.
The hosts created some good chances, with Hatem Ben Arfa forcing a fine save out of Joe Hart, and Demba Ba twice being unable to hit the target before the break, while after it Papiss Cisse sent a near-post header wide.
But Toure curled home from distance for his first before capping a fine breakaway late on to put the result beyond any doubt.
The opening exchanges were understandably tense, with both sides keeping possession well but failing to make any impression. Only a couple of long-range Man City efforts - blocked by James Perch and Yohan Cabaye before they could get anywhere near goal - were all that either side had to show for their endeavours.
The visitors went closest to breaking the deadlock just after the ten-minute mark, when David Silva found himself with a couple of yards of space inside the area, but his low drive across the face of goal was parried away to safety by United stopper Tim Krul.
City were beginning to turn the screw, and on 17 minutes Krul had to be down smartly to keep out a low Sergio Aguero shot after Silva had weaved his way past a couple of challenges and fed the Argentine international.
The pressure continued and Krul was once again called into action midway through the dive, gathering Carlos Tevez's 25-yard free-kick at his near post after Hatem Ben Arfa had been booked for a foul on Gael Clichy.
It took United 28 minutes to muster their first chance of the afternoon, and it came through leading scorer Demba Ba. Out wide on right, Ben Arfa beat Joleon Lescott to a ball on the touchline, before racing forward and cutting it inside to Ba.
The big Senegalese front man turned and fired a left-footed shot goalwards, only to see it fly narrowly over the top of Joe Hart's goal.
That was the spark the Magpies needed as they suddenly began to spark into life. When Jonas Gutierrez robbed Pablo Zabaleta deep in the City half, it led to first Ba's shot being blocked, before Hart pulled off a fine save to keep out Ben Arfa's strike from the rebound.
Yohan Cabaye then dragged a low effort well wide, while Ba headed Ben Arfa's left-wing delivery over the top with five minutes of the half remaining.
But City came back at them and only some superb last-ditch defending prevented Newcastle from falling behind. As the ball was cut-back low inside the area to Barry, his first shot was blocked by Fabricio Coloccini, before the same player then struck again, only to see Davide Santon clear off the line.
The first chance of the second half when the way of the visitors, but Yaya Toure was unable to keep his 25-yard free-kick down, and United escaped conceding a set piece in a dangerous area.
Just past the hour mark City introduced Nigel De Jong from the bench in place of Samir Nasri, and the Dutch midfielder entered the pitch to a loud chorus of boos - United fans still angry at his tackle in October 2010 which left Ben Arfa with a double leg break.
And that man Ben Arfa came inches away from breaking the deadlock on 65 minutes. Ba received the ball on the edge of the box and, having held off the attentions of his marker, spread it wide to the right. Ben Arfa turned Clichy inside out but could only send a rising right-footed shot agonisingly the wrong side of the upright.
City introduced big striker Edin Dzeko from the substitutes' bench in a bid to boost their attacking power, and within seconds had taken the lead - but it came from a midfielder.
Receiving the ball from De Jong, Toure played a neat one-two with Aguero around 25 yards out before curling an inch-perfect strike past the grasp of Krul and into the bottom corner. It was an outstanding finish which sent more than 3,000 visiting fans wild as they took another step closer to clinching their first Premier League title.
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew responded with a double change - Ben Arfa and Perch replaced by Shola Ameobi and Shane Ferguson - but it was the visitors who continued to create and Aguero should have doubled their advantage with a simple chance.
He broke the offside trap to race on to Silva's dinked pass over the top, but somehow side-footed wide when one-on-one with Krul.
United's response came from the head of Papiss Cisse. Coloccini and Ameobi combined on the edge of the area, with the latter chipping a cross towards the near post, and although Cisse rose well and got a firm connection he was unable to direct his header on target.
Ameobi looked close to salvaging a draw with only a couple minutes remaining when he connected with a fierce volley from 18 yards, only to see Micah Richards deny him with an outstanding block, throwing his body in front of the ball.
And City promptly went straight up the other end and made it 2-0 in the 89th minute through Toure again. As the visitors broke at pace, the ball was worked from right to left.
Clichy cleverly slipped the ball into the path of Toure six yards out, and from there he made no mistake with a composed finish which put the seal on proceedings.
Newcastle United (4-4-2): Tim Krul; James Perch (Shane Ferguson 74), Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini (c), Davide Santon; Hatem Ben Arfa (Shola Ameobi 74), Cheick Tiote (Ryan Taylor 82), Yohan Cabaye, Jonas Gutierrez; Demba Ba, Papiss Cisse
Subs not used: Rob Elliot, Dan Gosling, Sylvain Marveaux, Gabriel Obertan
Manchester City (4-2-3-1): Joe Hart; Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany (c), Joleon Lescott, Gael Clichy; Gareth Barry, Yaya Toure; Samir Nasri (Nigel De Jong 62), Carlos Tevez (Edin Dzeko 70), David Silva (Micah Richards 85); Sergio Aguero
Subs not used: Costel Pantilimon, Aleksandar Kolarov, James Milner, Adam Johnson
Referee: Howard Webb (Yorkshire)
Attendance: 52,389 (3,200 Man City)