Manchester City 2 Newcastle United 0
- Andre Marriner
Goals either side of half time from Ilkay Gundogan and Ferran Torres handed Manchester City a 2-0 win over Newcastle United on Boxing Day.
Gundogan swept home an early goal for Pep Guardiola’s side at the Etihad Stadium, but a resolute United - helped in part by in-form keeper Karl Darlow - made sure they were still in with a shout of getting something from the contest.
But their hopes were dashed in the 54th minute when Torres turned home from ten yards to extend City’s advantage, and ultimately deny Steve Bruce’s men a result on what was their final away game of 2020.
After a low-key start, the hosts made a breakthrough just before the quarter-hour mark. It owed much to the patience of Raheem Sterling who, when played in on goal, delayed his shot and waited for the opportune moment to present Gundogan with a chance to open the scoring, which he duly took.
Darlow, who has been so impressive between the sticks for United this season, could have done little about the German’s strike but he had to be alert to claw a Kevin De Bruyne cross away from goal and then deny Torres with a smart save down low to his left as City dominated.
After the half hour the Magpies were indebted to Darlow once again. Torres’ fine through ball split United open and presented De Bruyne with a chance, but the Belgian stuttered before he took the shot and former Nottingham Forest stopper Darlow was able to get down well to block the effort. An instinctive flick of the goalkeeper’s arm then diverted a Sterling shot wide as the half ended with Guardiola’s men in control, though the visitors had forced a few corners and were still in the contest.
Centre half John Stones sent a free header well wide after the restart when De Bruyne’s picked him out in the box, but Newcastle responded through Jacob Murphy, who latched on to Miguel Almirón’s pass and thumped in a low shot which Ederson did well to hold on to.
But less than ten minutes into the second half, City extended their lead. It came after a brief spell of pressure from the hosts, who saw Rodri’s shot charges down by Ciaran Clark. But Almirón couldn’t clear when the ball fell to him and Joao Cancelo picked it up, sending in a cross which Federico Fernández inadvertently turned into Torres’ path. The auxiliary forward rolled home to give his side their second of the night.
From a similar position, Sterling miscued soon after and Bernardo Silva hit the outside of the post as City looked to move through the gears, but a long-range curling effort from Murphy - which flew just over - was a reminder that Newcastle still wanted to find a way back into the game.
But in the end it didn’t happen, despite Murphy’s best efforts. The winger had another shot repelled by Ederson, though ultimately it could have been 3-0 but for Darlow, who made a stunning stop at the other end to deny substitute Sergio Aguero from close range.