Sunday 6 May 2012 1.30pm
Newcastle United 0
Manchester City 2
Newcastle United went toe to toe with the all but certain title winners and came out second best…but not by much.
A very tight first half saw very few clear chances but some excellent play from both teams, though the main action was in the middle of the pitch as the likes of Cabaye and Tiote went up against Silva and Toure on the sky blue side.
There were a handful of tense moments for us in the first forty five but the clearest chance came from a flowing move which ended with Cisse letting the ball run to Ba who arguably could and should have let it run on again to Ben Arfa. However, Ba tried to work an opening from only ten yards out and the ball rebounded to Ben Arfa’s whose right footed volley was well turned away by Hart.
Whether by accident or design, City were targeting our right side and that was where the likes of Silva’s clever little threaded balls were having most effect.
In contrast our biggest threat was often on the left side through Santon, who was possibly having his best match so far. Nasri causing him few problems at the back and the Italian full-back causing City plenty problems at the other end with his positive runs.
If indeed City go on to win the league then I think it will definitely have been built on their defence. Kompany leads a very rigid back line and with the likes of Barry in front of them it makes for a solid, if at times less than exciting formation.
Ironically, almost immediately after Nasri was replaced by De Jong the breakthrough was made, Toure finding sapce to curl an effort beyond Krul from around twenty five yards.
The second half had gradually opened play up and from there on there were chances at both ends as substitutions flowed. Ferguson looked lively on the left while Shola again seems to give a different dimension as a late sub that he never gives when he starts.
Some loose play allowed Toure through on goal and as he approached Krul he did an ‘Andy Carroll’, an outrageous dive that would surely produce his second yellow from Howard Webb.
Not surprisingly it didn’t appear and any extra impetus was lost to those in black and white. As an extra cruel twist, Toure made sure on the stroke of ninety minutes and our destiny is not in our own hands.
Fifth at worst and top four if we beat Everton and Arsenal lose and/or Spurs don’t win.
A great season and a standing ovation for the players. You can’t win every week but it is great to see our players giving their all every match.
Newcastle United will never be defeated…but we will lose the odd match.
Newcastle United: Tim Krul, James Perch (Shane Ferguson 74), Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini, 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: Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany, 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