Manchester City march on but Pep Guardiola once again appeared to find Newcastle United an irritant that was harder to shake off than expected.
Alan Shearer pointed out that this was basically a Championship team, with Joselu and Manquillo the only starters who weren’t in the promotion squad of 2016/17.
After losing to Liverpool, Pep Guardiola admitted that failing to win twice in a row might have created a slightly different conversation but claimed his players weren’t nervous.
Newcastle had a chance in the opening minute but after that it was predictably one-way traffic, though it was a little extreme for the Man City boss to claim that ‘Newcastle crossed the halfway just once and scored.’
The truth was that whilst Man City dominated, Rafa Benitez and his tactics just about kept Newcastle in the game, until once again making subs in the final quarter of the match to try and grab an unlikely point.
Perez was first on and then Yedlin joined him on 66 minutes, within 60 seconds Newcastle were back in it, thanks to Murphy’s tremendous goal.
Gayle followed with quarter of an hour remaining and Rafa now risked getting players forward and his players created a few decent situations.
However, his reasoning for simply trying to keep it tight for so long then is made crystal clear, as Manchester City broke in numbers and Aguero’s hat-trick goal ensured the victory.
I think a clear example of both managers doing their best to get a result with the players they have available.
Pep Guardiola and the broadcasters would obviously love it if Newcastle had tried in some way to match Man City and got smashed by seven or eight but Rafa Benitez is not going to play that game.
If Southampton win on Sunday at home to Spurs, then it will be goal difference that is the only thing keeping them out of the relegation zone. Who knows how important that goal difference could prove in that final analysis in May – Rafa Benitez needs to have every margin working for him when it comes to trying to keep this underfunded squad in the Premier League.
“Even if I was nervous, the important thing was the players were not – no panic.
“We won the game but when the game was 0-0 we only conceded one chance in that first minute, then we didn’t concede absolutely anything (else) in the first half.
“Newcastle defended with 10 players in the box and it was so complicated.
“The few times when they did press higher and attacked us, we were able to make good combinations.
“Always after the defeat against Liverpool, you have a little bit of doubt how you would react, what would happen if you went two games in a row not winning.
“That’s why it was so important.
“We are not going to buy another striker.
“We have him (Aguero) and, in two or three weeks, Gabriel is back.
“We are so happy for him.
“Before his first goal, he didn’t touch the ball. It is his gift. No words to describe him. I am so happy for him.
“I think how Sergio played his career here – his reaction doesn’t depend on the fact that one player comes or doesn’t come. In the last games, apart from Anfield, he scores goals.
“This chapter is over, finished, so we are going to think of the future.
“We need 10 more wins to be champions and we’ll try for more points.
“It was an outstanding performance, often against 11 players behind the ball but we were patient, and we found the space really well.
“Newcastle crossed the halfway just once and scored…but we’re so happy.”
Stats from BBC Sport:
Manchester City 3 Newcastle 1
Newcastle: Murphy 67
Man City: Aguero 34, 63 (Pen), 83
Possession was Man City 81% Newcastle 19%
Total shots were Man City 21 Newcastle 6
Shots on target were Man City 9 Newcastle 4
Corners were Man City 18 Newcastle 0
Referee: Paul Tierney
Darlow, Manquillo (Yedlin 66), Lascelles, Clark, Dummett, Hayden, Murphy, Diame, Shelvey, Atsu (Perez 64), Joselu (Gayle 76)
Elliot, Haidara, Merino, Ritchie
Crowd: 54,452 (Newcastle 3,000)
(Read instant fan/writer reaction to the Man City game HERE)
(To read the player ratings by fans and add your own go HERE)
(Alan Shearer explains in simple language why Newcastle fans want rid of Mike Ashley – Read HERE)