Newcastle United 0 Manchester City 2
- Lee Mason
Newcastle United’s first FA Cup quarter final in 14 years ended in defeat as holders Manchester City ran out comfortable winners at St. James’ Park.
The Magpies spent almost all of the first 45 minutes camped inside their own half and were fortunate to be just a goal down at the interval, Kevin De Bruyne marking his 29th birthday by converting a penalty after Fabian Schär’s needless shove on Gabriel Jesus.
United’s one and only chance of the game was a glorious one, though, with Dwight Gayle guilty of a glaring miss from deep inside the area after Allan Saint-Maximin fired the ball across the face of goal. With that went the Magpies’ hopes of a first semi-final appearance at the new Wembley, and Raheem Sterling quickly put the outcome beyond doubt with a sweetly-struck effort from distance.
The set-up for the entirety of the opening half was established early on; City had virtually all of the ball while nine of the Magpies’ ten outfield players looked to the shield the goalmouth and Karl Darlow between the sticks. The outlier was Andy Carroll, restored to United’s starting XI for the first time since December but, unfortunately, unable to get much of a sniff. Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gündogan both saw tenth-minute efforts deflected before the former squandered a good opportunity from Sterling’s square, leaning back and lifting the ball into row Z of an empty Gallowgate End.
Jesus came close to breaking the deadlock after getting an instinctive touch to Kyle Walker’s low cross from the right, flicking the ball into the ground and just past the upright. Mahrez then took aim again, curling one narrowly wide from the edge of the penalty area after finding a couple of yards of space. The Algerian then combined with Sterling, who forced Darlow into a parry. At that point, the Magpies still had half of the opening period to see out.
It was all City. De Bruyne saw a vicious strike blocked in the 24th minute, before Sterling brought another stop out of Darlow from a tight angle. In the event, Pep Guardiola’s side didn’t have to wait too much longer to take the lead, but the frustrating thing from a Magpies perspective was that it came gift-wrapped. Schär’s push on Jesus was unnecessary, and De Bruyne duly sent Darlow the wrong way from 12 yards. United managed to make it to the break without sustaining further damage, although they were fortunate, with Aymeric Laporte guiding David Silva’s corner back across goal and centimetres past the post.
Without necessarily posing a threat, Newcastle did at least look a little more purposeful as the second half got underway, Schär moving up into midfield after starting the game as a centre half. Still, it was City who were the first to go close after the restart, Mahrez nearly finding the roof of the net with a thunderous strike from range.
United’s goose was cooked, however, by a nightmarish two-minute spell midway through the second half. Substitute Gayle struck with his first meaningful touch against Aston Villa on Wednesday night, and he really ought to have repeated the trick against City. Following a rare foray into the visitors’ penalty area, Saint-Maximin appeared to have hung onto the ball a second too long on the right, only to thread a fine low cross through a crowd of bodies. It looked certain that Gayle would apply the finishing touch, but somehow, the unmarked frontman contrived to miss the target with ‘keeper Claudio Bravo in no-man’s land.
And, typically, the Magpies were swiftly made to pay. Laporte picked out substitute Phil Foden with a wonderful ball from deep, which the young playmaker controlled impeccably. He drove forward before passing to Sterling, who considered his options before marauding on and bending the ball into the far corner from 20 yards.
That was pretty much that for Newcastle, whose 65-year wait for a domestic trophy stretches on.