Manchester City extended their lead at the top of the Premier League standings to three points after beating Newcastle 5-0 at the Etihad Stadium.
Pep Guardiola’s team calmed any pre-match anxieties early on with goals from Raheem Sterling and Aymeric Laporte in the first half, taking advantage of Liverpool’s slip up against Tottenham and shrugging off their midweek Champions League setback in style.
Rodri added a third goal from Kevin De Bruyne’s corner on the hour mark, before substitute Phil Foden and Sterling, who scored his second goal of the game, reinforced City’s dominance in the second half in the Manchester sunlight.
Man City: Ederson (7), Cancelo (8), Dias (7), Laporte (7), Zinchenko (8), Rodri (8), De Bruyne (9), Gundogan (8), Sterling (9), Jesus (7), Grealish (8).
Subs: Fernandinho (7), Foden (7), Egan-Riley (n/a).
Newcastle: Dubravka (4), Krafth (5), Lascelles (5), Burn (5), Targett (5), Longstaff (6), Joelinton (6), Guimaraes (6), Almiron (5), Wood (5), Saint-Maximin (6).
Subs: Wilson (5), Trippier (6), Murphy (6).
Man of the match: Kevin De Bruyne.
The dramatic defeat to Real Madrid provided an intriguing backdrop to the game and Newcastle did have chances early on – the best falling to Chris Wood.
But City created chances throughout and they now have some margin for error, knowing that two wins and a draw from their remaining games will be enough to retain the title.
Newcastle, with Callum Wilson and Kieran Trippier both making their return from injury off the bench, missed the chance to move into the top half of the table and remain in 13th position.
Pep Guardiola made four changes from the defeat to Real Madrid. Jack Grealish, Raheem Sterling, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Ilkay Gundogan all returned as Kyle Walker, Bernardo Silva, Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden stepped aside.
Eddie Howe made three changes as Chris Wood came back in as his focal point in attack with Joelinton in midfield. Jamaal Lascelles replaced Fabian Schar while Sean Longstaff replaced Jonjo Shelvey. Among the subs were Callum Wilson and Kieran Trippier.
How Man City won the game
On reflection, Wood’s headed chance after eight minutes was a key moment in the game. With Joelinton free behind him, the striker could only nod the ball softly to Ederson. It was a bad miss.
Thereafter, City’s opening goal was coming, Laporte skying one volley before Joao Cancelo spurned a similarly inviting opportunity from Oleksandr Zinchenko’s cross.
Cancelo did rather better for Sterling’s goal, finding the forward from Ilkay Gundogan’s raking pass on the diagonal, with the England man doing the rest from close in.
Newcastle did almost have an equaliser immediately through Wood but Bruno Guimaraes had been offside when making contact with Jamaal Lascelles’ initial header from the corner.
But when Martin Dubravka failed to grasp Gundogan’s fierce shot from distance, being beaten to the rebound by Ruben Dias before Laporte forced home, the result felt inevitable.
City had, of course, surrendered a two-goal lead to Real Madrid, but there was to be no repeat, Rodri nodding in at the near post to make it three on the hour as Newcastle retreated at the start of the second half.
The best Newcastle chance fell to the rusty Wilson as Ederson saved well with the striker clean through, but it was Foden who had his say, sweeping in Zinchenko’s cross-shot after good work by Jack Grealish.
And the last word went to Sterling, latching onto Grealish’s pass to make it five in stoppage time.
The loss of Dias to injury at half-time was the only disappointment for the home side, with Guardiola confirming afterwards that his season is over.
Fortunately for City, despite Guardiola’s insistence before kick-off that they still need to win all of their games to claim the title, the reality is that they now have wiggle room in this race.
Analysis: Man City in full control of the title race
Asked on Friday afternoon, what response he expected from his players, Pep Guardiola told Sky Sports, “I think we are going to perform well. I know we are going to play like who we are. We are going to try to win the game, playing our best, that is for sure.”
There were some worrying moments early on and who knows what frailties might have been exposed had Chris Wood done better with a free header from close range after eight minutes. But what followed was an exhibition that underlined why City are top again.
With Jack Grealish and Joao Cancelo providing the width, Raheem Sterling bringing the incision, Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan sprayed the ball around the Etihad. Even when the tempo dipped in the second half, it was too much for Newcastle to handle.
The mood in the stands, supportive from the outset, felt like it had been helped by the result at Anfield the previous evening. That knowledge that City were no longer in a win or bust scenario took a little of the sting out of the fixture and gave them some freedom.
It was all that they needed. Away games against Wolves and West Ham might not be straightforward. But four points from those two fixtures will now be enough to ensure that City can return here on the final day knowing victory will guarantee them the title.
Man City’s win in stats
- Manchester City have beaten Newcastle 28 times in the Premier League, now the outright most they have beaten any side in the competition.
- Newcastle are winless in 32 Premier League away games against teams starting the day inside the top two places in the table – they have lost each of their last 17 such matches.
- Eddie Howe has lost all 12 of his Premier League meetings with Manchester City, the worst 100 per cent losing record a manager has against a single opponent in the competition.
- Raheem Sterling scored his 50th and 51st Premier League goals for Man City at the Etihad Stadium, becoming only the second player to reach this total after Sergio Agüero (106).
- Joao Cancelo provided his 10th assist of the season. Man City are the only team in Europe’s big five leagues to have four or more different players reach 10 assists in all competitions.