Manchester City regained its attacking swagger in time for the visit of Barcelona in the Champions League by thrashing Newcastle...
Manchester City regained its attacking swagger in time for the visit of Barcelona in the Champions League by thrashing Newcastle 5-0 on Saturday and subsequently trimmed the gap to English Premier League leader Chelsea to five points.
The champions were 3-0 ahead within 21 minutes through goals by Sergio Aguero – from the penalty spot – Samir Nasri and the impressive Edin Dzeko, before Spain playmaker David Silva scored twice in the space of two minutes early in the second half.
New signing Wilfried Bony came on as a 60th-minute substitute for his debut, five weeks after signing from Swansea for an initial fee of 25 million pounds ($38.5 million), and was denied a first goal by goalkeeper Tim Krul’s fine save in the 76th.
It was the ideal warm-up for City ahead of the first-leg match against Barcelona in the last 16 of Europe’s top competition on Tuesday – and completed a successful day for the champions after Chelsea surprisingly drew 1-1 against Burnley to reinvigorate the title race.
After a difficult January when City fell away from Chelsea in the league and was eliminated from the FA Cup by second-tier Middlesbrough, Manuel Pellegrini’s side has rediscovered its scoring brio that marked its last few seasons.
Coming after a 4-1 win at Stoke, that’s nine goals in two games for City, which also has star midfielder Yaya Toure and Bony back from international duty at the African Cup of Nations.
Dzeko’s place in City’s attack is under threat following the arrival of Bony but the Bosnian’s response was to produce his best performance of the season, showing strength, alertness and incisiveness in an opening spell that saw City blow Newcastle away.
He pounced on an error by Vurnon Anita near the Newcastle area and was tripped by the midfielder with just 24 seconds having elapsed. Aguero nonchalantly tucked away the penalty for his 22nd goal of the season in all competitions.
Dzeko’s deflected pass then fell into the path of Nasri, who dribbled past a prone defender and slammed a left-foot shot into the roof of the net for 2-0 after 12 minutes.
Worse was to come in the 21st for Newcastle’s pitiful defense as Silva arrowed a brilliant pass over the top to Dzeko, who chested down and side-footed a finish with his left foot past Krul.
Toure eased back into the City team in his first appearance for the champions in six weeks, spraying around passes and dominating central midfield.
Aguero also looks sharp again after a lull on his return from five weeks injured and he played a key part in both of Silva’s goal.
A searching run from halfway by the Argentina international in the 51st ended with the striker passing across to Nasri, who squared the ball to Silva. The midfielder controlled it and placed a finish into the corner from 12 meters.
Aguero then chested down Toure’s long pass and Silva ran onto the free ball to fire a firm shot into the far corner from outside the area.
Pellegrini had the luxury of bringing Silva and Aguero off on the hour, as Bony was introduced to loud cheers at Etihad Stadium. He almost got a debut goal, too, but after being set free by Toure, but the Ivorian’s shot was deflected over by the outstretched left foot of Krul.
Newcastle lost 4-0 on its last visit to City in the league, on the opening day of last season.