lkay Gundogan scored his second Premier League goal of the season
lkay Gundogan scored his second Premier League goal of the season

Manchester City secured their customary home win over Newcastle as Ilkay Gundogan and Ferran Torres scored the goals that moved them up to fifth in the Premier League.

The triumph was City’s 12th in a row in this particular fixture.

And the margin of victory could have been far more as Newcastle keeper Karl Darlow produced two excellent first-half saves to deny Kevin de Bruyne, then an even better one to repel a close range shot from substitute Sergio Aguero near the end.

In addition, John Stones and Raheem Sterling both wasted glorious chances after the break and Bernardo Silva hit a post from an acute angle.

However, City had far too much for their visitors and after a difficult start to the season have now moved into a position from which they can mount a title challenge, having previously only been in the top five for a paltry one day and five hours all season.

For Newcastle, it felt like an exercise in damage limitation on a grim night weather-wise.

The Magpies had 24% possession and just two shots on target as manager Steve Bruce opted not to risk top scorer Callum Wilson at the end of a difficult 10 days which has seen his team collect a single point from three league games and exit the Carabao Cup at the hands of Championship outfit Brentford.

Torres the star striker

Ferran Torres is City's joint-top scorer this season with seven goals in all competitions
Ferran Torres is City’s joint-top scorer this season with seven goals in all competitions

Although both sides lost two players to coronavirus related issues, the damage to Newcastle caused by the loss of Allan Saint-Maximin and captain Jamaal Lascelles was far more significant than that inflicted on City by the positive tests for Kyle Walker and Gabriel Jesus revealed on Christmas Day.

Even without Jesus, Pep Guardiola could afford to leave Sergio Aguero on the bench as the City boss preferring to use Torres in the centre-forward role instead.

The decision was vindicated, both by the result and Torres’ seventh goal of the season.

It was not the hardest of finishes. Federico Fernandez slid in to block Joao Cancelo’s low cross but succeeded only in providing Torres with a clear sight of goal from eight yards.

That goal doubled the advantage given to City by Gundogan, who capitalised on Raheem Sterling’s 14th-minute cut-back.

Remarkably, the goal allowed City to equal the Premier League record of a side scoring in 24 consecutive games against the same club.

But it may well be of concern to Guardiola that his side failed to increase their tally.

They have still only scored more than twice in a single home game in the Premier League this season, although this was their fourth clean sheet in that run.

Good night for Gundogan

It is coming up for four-and-a-half seasons since City paid Borussia Dortmund £20m for Gundogan.

So keen was Guardiola to have the midfielder in his squad, he pushed the transfer through even though Gundogan had a patchy injury record and would not be fit for the start of his debut campaign.

It would be unfair to say the 30-year-old has failed to deliver.

He was given a new four-year contract in 2019 so Guardiola must be happy with him.

However, the feeling remains he has not quite hit the heights anticipated and, as City come to terms with life without David Silva, the onus is on Gundogan to step up.

Gundogan has never scored more than six goals in a season. Friday night’s effort takes him to four for the current campaign and the intelligent way he found space for Sterling to pick him out in a packed penalty area, then found the net through the narrowest of gaps, hints at someone who can do more.

It also means he has scored in consecutive home games and, in producing a tidy performance in an advanced role alongside De Bruyne – who is yet to score from open play – showed the capability to at least partially fill the void Silva’s departure for Real Sociedad has left.

Forthcoming trips to Everton and Chelsea will offer an indication as to how close to Liverpool, City will get.

For Newcastle fans, the four days to wait for Liverpool’s visit to St James’ Park are unlikely to be filled with much optimism.

What next?

City’s next Premier League game is against second-placed Everton at Goodison Park on Monday, 28 December (20:00GMT). Newcastle’s next game is at home to leaders Liverpool at St James’ Park on Wednesday, 30 December (20:00GMT).

helpHow to play

Rate players out of 10 throughout or after the game. The rater will close 30 minutes after the final whistle.

Rating range key1 = Give it up10 = Pure perfection

Manchester City

  1. Squad number10Player nameAgüero
  2. Squad number25Player nameFernandinho
  3. Squad number47Player nameFoden

Newcastle United

  1. Squad number26Player nameDarlow

  2. Squad number22Player nameYedlin

  3. Squad number18Player nameFernández

  4. Squad number5Player nameSchär

  5. Squad number2Player nameClark

  6. Squad number11Player nameRitchie

  7. Squad number23Player nameMurphy

  8. Squad number14Player nameHayden

  9. Squad number4Player nameM Longstaff

  10. Squad number24Player nameAlmirón

  11. Squad number9Player nameJoelinton

  1. Squad number7Player nameCarroll

  2. Squad number12Player nameGayle

  3. Squad number15Player nameLewis

Line-ups

Man City

  • 31Ederson
  • 5Stones
  • 3Rúben Dias
  • 6Aké
  • 16RodriBooked at 34minsSubstituted forFernandinhoat 57′minutes
  • 27CanceloBooked at 88mins
  • 8GündoganSubstituted forFodenat 90+1′minutes
  • 17De Bruyne
  • 7Sterling
  • 21TorresSubstituted forAgüeroat 77′minutes
  • 20Bernardo Silva

Substitutes

  • 10Agüero
  • 11Zinchenko
  • 13Steffen
  • 14Laporte
  • 22Mendy
  • 25Fernandinho
  • 26Mahrez
  • 47Foden
  • 80Palmer

Newcastle

  • 26Darlow
  • 22Yedlin
  • 18Fernández
  • 5SchärBooked at 80mins
  • 2Clark
  • 11RitchieBooked at 64minsSubstituted forLewisat 66′minutes
  • 23Murphy
  • 14Hayden
  • 4M Longstaff
  • 24AlmirónSubstituted forGayleat 82′minutes
  • 9JoelintonSubstituted forCarrollat 71′minutes

Substitutes

  • 7Carroll
  • 12Gayle
  • 13C Wilson
  • 15Lewis
  • 17Krafth
  • 19Manquillo
  • 29Gillespie
  • 36S Longstaff
  • 57Anderson

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