Man City take control of title race with Liverpool by thrashing Newcastle

Newcastle United's English defender Jamaal Lascelles (L) vies with Manchester City's English midfielder Raheem Sterling during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Newcastle United at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on May 8, 2022.

Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City answered the critics after their Champions League meltdown with a composed and comfortable victory against Newcastle on Sunday that returned them to the top of the Premier League.

City, beaten so traumatically by Real Madrid in midweek, took full advantage of Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with Tottenham on Saturday, to demolish Newcastle 5-0 thanks to two goals from Raheem Sterling and one apiece for Aymeric Laporte, Rodri and Phil Foden.

The meeting between the two Premier League clubs with the greatest financial backing, via their respective Middle East ownership, may not have been overly competitive or entertaining.

But in Guardiola’s quest for a fourth league title in the past five seasons, it could prove a pivotal victory.

City were two goals to the good by the interval and seemingly home and dry, but they had to survive an anxious moment with the game scoreless.

Allan Saint-Maximin floated over a perfect cross after eight minutes which target man Chris Wood met with a weak effort that bounced harmlessly to Ederson when the City keeper would have expected to see his net bulging.

It was a costly miss, with the home side clicking through the gears and finally taking the lead on 19 minutes.

Ilkay Gundogan sent over a cross which was met by Joao Cancelo and headed on for Sterling to nod in his first league goal since mid-February from close range.

It looked a long way back for Eddie Howe’s side, although Wood scrambled the ball into the City goal five minutes later only for his effort to be ruled out for offside against Bruno Guimaraes.

And a tough task for Newcastle became even tougher seven minutes before the interval when Laporte doubled the lead.

Newcastle keeper Martin Dubravka fumbled a Gundogan volley from the edge of the area and, after Ruben Dias’ effort was blocked, Laporte forced the rebound over the line.

With City and Liverpool perilously close in the goal difference, as well as points, column, Guardiola would have wanted his side to build on the lead in the second half.

And it took just 15 minutes for De Bruyne, so ineffective in Madrid in midweek, to set up a City third with his perfect corner delivery behind headed in by Rodri from the corner of the six-yard box.

Oleksandr Zinchenko almost added a fourth seven minutes later when his powerful shot was tipped over acrobatically by Dubravka and Newcastle’s hopes of a late consolation were denied when Ederson blocked Callum Wilson as he raced through on goal.

With goal difference still of potential importance in the title race, City were buoyed when substitute Foden diverted a Zinchenko shot past the stranded Dubravka in the 90th minute.

And in time added on Sterling scored his second, and City’s fifth, when Jack Grealish found him unmarked six yards from goal.

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