NEWCASTLE UNITED 0, MANCHESTER CITY 2
Yaya Toure, who turns 29 next week, has been a crucial player for City – scoring the winning goal in the FA Cup final last season and the fulcrum in City’s midfield all season. It was only apt, therefore, that the big midfielder pushed forward and scored the second half goals that might just have delivered the title to the blue half of Manchester for the first time since 1968.
It took 70 minutes for Toure to open the scoring, with a move started by substitute Nigel de Jong whose introduction allowed Toure to attack. Toure had a hat trick of misses while Sergio Aguero spurned a succession of chances to finish off the Magpies but the Ivorian scored an 89th minute goal after collecting a cross from Gael Clichy to clinch the game 2-0, lift the pressure and take a massive step towards the title.
City manager Roberto Mancini continued to play down their title hopes even with just one game to go as he expected United to keep up the chase at the top:
“Today’s win is not enough because we have another difficult game like today. I’ll only be confident of the title after the QPR game.”
Both sides knew a draw wasn’t good enough to satisfy their ambitions but it was City who edged the opening quarter of the game with close passing, possession football that put the Magpies under pressure.
Half chances for Carlos Tevez and Yaya Toure rattled the defence while David Silva and Sergio Aguero both tested Tim Krul.
Krul was tested again when he left his line to chase down a pass for Aguero but the Argentine fluffed his chance and the Dutch keeper didn’t look confident at the resulting corner which was cleared by a Newcastle defender.
Further chances by Silva and Tevez underlined the dominance of City before the home side came back into the game heralding a rash of bookings for fouls by a succession of players on both sides.
In this time Joe Hart, who had been underemployed in the first half, had to pull off saves from Hatem Ben Arfa and Vincent Kompany had to block an effort by Damba Ba who had an earlier effort on goal go wide.
Gareth Barry had City’s best chance of the first half when Silva put him through but his goalbound effort was cleared off the line by Davide Santon.
The longer the game stayed goalless the more the pressure piled on for both sides. City swapped Samir Nasri for Nigel De Jong and pushed Yaya Toure further up the midfield. Edin Dzeko replaced Carlos Tevez as City still sought the goal with 20 minutes to go.
Almost right away Yaya Toure scored and sent the travelling fans into raptures. De Jong found Yaya on the edge of the box. The Ivorian exchanged passes with Aguero before slamming in the crucial goal the had City’s management staff off the bench and celebrating. The City fans up in the top of the Sports Direct Arena didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at the goal but they were all celebrating together.
Dzeko snatched at a half chance to seal the victory while Newcastle brought Shola Ameobi on for Hatem Ben Arfa.
Sergio Aguero inexplicably missed a gilt edged chance with 15 minutes to go when a ball over the top left him with just Krul to beat but the Argentine sidefooted it wide and it was clear that Mancini was furious as the game continued to rest on a knife edge.
Hearts were in mouths with 12 minutes to go as Papiss Cisse’s header went wide. The Senegalese striker had put too much on it as Newcastle threw caution to the wind in a desperate bid to rescue a point.
Bookings were continuing to come in thick and fast and Zabaleta and Ferguson were punished for fouls.
Silva’s free kick almost found Yaya Toure in the box but the big man missed his chance as the clock counted down.
Yaya Toure broke free with six minutes to go but inexplicably slipped in front of Krul while Aguero couldn’t finish the follow up which was laid off to him by Yaya and skied his chance.
Micah Richards came on with five minutes to go and blocked a shot by a Newcastle player before Clichy provided an 89th minute assist for Yaya Toure to put the game to bed following a counter attack.
Hart made amazing last minute saves from Ba and Cisse to deny the Magpies a consolation goal as City held firm leaving City fans dreaming of the title in just seven days.