MAN CITY 5, NEWCASTLE UTD 0
Manchester City displayed their Premier League title credentials on the day that leaders Chelsea surprisingly slipped up at home to Burnley.
City produced a deadly display to cut the deficit on Chelsea to five points when it could have become a 10-point gap in the worse-case scenario.
Suddenly the title race is back on with City building a momentum as Chelsea show signs of faltering on what captain Vincent Kompany described as a “near-perfect display”.
David Silva scored twice while Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Samir Nasri also found the net as City registered their biggest league win since March 2014. It was also sweet revenge for the surprise home defeat inflicted by the Magpies in the Capital One Cup.
And it was the perfect preparation for Tuesday’s Champions League game against Barcelona who were losing at home to Malaga in La Liga.
Manager Manuel Pellegrini was satisfied with his side’s performance as his team prepares for its biggest game of the season.
He said: “It was very important to arrive for the Barcelona game having won today.
“Four goals were wonderful play and the first goal was good play as well.
“I am very pleased because we returned to a scoring team and did not concede goals.”
Pellegrini added that Dzeko and Silva are returning to their best following lengthy injury lay offs.
City’s manager also believes his side are better prepared to play Barcelona than they were 12 months ago.
He said: “It was difficult last year arriving in February having played 18 games in December and January and we arrived not at our best moment.
“This year we have played less games in January and hopefully the experience of last year will help us have a strong game against Barcelona.”
Pellegrini added City will play an attacking game on Tuesday as they need to score goals adding it is also important not to concede as it is a different game as it is played over 180 minutes.
City welcomed back Yaya Toure from the African Cup if Nations and also recalled Edin Dzeko to the starting line up as Fernando Reges and the injured James Milner missed out.
There was no place, however, for new-signing Wilfried Bony as the former Swansea City striker had to settle for a place on the bench.
City made a dream start winning a penalty after only 28 seconds when Aguero was fouled by Vurnon Anita as referee Chris Foy pointed to the spot.
Aguero stepped forward to slot the ball low to the left of keeper Tim Krul for his 22nd goal of the season.
After a tortuous start, Newcastle began to inch their way back into the game with Daryl Janmaat seeing a terrific 25-yard drive flash just wide of the upright.
It got even better for City when they doubled the lead in the 12th minute when Dzeko’s deflected cross from the left found Nasri who shot into the roof of the net from eight yards for his third goal of the campaign.
City made it 3-0 inside 21 minutes when Dzeko chested down a delightful diagonal ball from David Silva and swept home his fifth goal of the season on the half volley.
Newcastle would have got on to the scoresheet early in the second half, but for the heroics of Joe Hart is acrobatically turned over a stunning volley from Papiss Cisse.
City added a fourth goal in the 51st minute following a brilliantly constructed move. Aguero cut in from the touchline and sprayed the ball out to Nasri who square the ball to Silva who shot home from 12 yards.
And two minutes later it was 5-0 when Aguero knocked Toure’s long forward ball down for Silva who rifled home an unstoppable shot from outside the box, his ninth goal of the season for City.
City then began to eye Tuesday’s glamour Champions League tie against Barcelona as Silva and Aguero were replaced by Jesus Navas and Bony. Then with 20 minutes left Frank Lampard came on for Nasri.
Dzeko almost added a sixth goal after intercepting a bad back pass, but Krul raced off his line to make a brilliant block.
There was almost a debut goal for Bony as Krul deflected his shot with his legs just over the crossbar.
City continued to carve out chances as Aleksandar Kolarov’s free kick was turned round the post by the alert Krul.