Newcastle United 0-2 Manchester City
After a first half where Newcastle were utterly destroyed (albeit just 1-0 down at the break), they would be left wondering what could have been after Dwight Gayle missed as good a chance as you’ll ever get to score to make it 1-1 just after the hour mark.
Two minutes later City killed it. A cracking Sterling effort restoring City’s dominance after what had been a really promising spell for the Magpies after Bruce had pushed Schar into midfield after the break.
A Kevin De Bruyne spot kick may have been all the separated the teams in terms of the scoreline at half time. But City had been irresistible. If this was a boxing match it would have been stopped long long before first half drinks break.
And whilst the tactical change made the game a contest in the second half, City’s extra class told.
Bruce made 3 key changes before this one. Most prominent of the three was the dropping of Dubravka to the bench, with Darlow making a rare start. Strange perhaps given the potential magnitude of this game and the impact it would have on the season.
There would also be starting births for Fernandez, as Bruce went to a back 5 from kick off, and for Sean Longstaff and Andy Carroll.
STARTING XI: Darlow, Manquillo, Schar, Lascelles, Fernandez, Rose (Yedlin, 75), Hayden (M Longstaff, 79), S Longstaff, Saint-Maximin (Lazaro, 75), Almiron (Gayle, 64), Carroll (Joelinton, 64).
For the visitors there would be no Fernandinho, out through suspension, whilst Aguero and Stones are injured and Fodin and Cancelo were only fit enough to make the bench.
No matter, City were will on fire form the start. Crisp, quick in movement, lightning in thought. This is what all teams should aspire to play football like. Newcastle, workmanlike, panicked and second best on every blade of grass.
If Bruce had taken a load of lads fresh from the Town Moor and strapped black and white shirts on them all with the orders of ‘defend for your lives’ you’d not have really noticed the difference.
City started like a train. A corner in the opening moments came to nothing but set the tone, with the 5 at the back for United inviting City onto them at every moment.
City’s best chance of the opening 15 minutes fell to Mahrez, who after being brilliantly set up by De Bruyne should have done much better than blazing over.
Newcastle’s next escape was a Silva miss after a driven cross from Walker hammered off his foot and somehow just went the right side of the post from the home sides point of view.
15% possession in the first 20 minutes told its own story. Even when the Magpies did get the ball back all they seemed capable of was a hoof to ‘wherever Carroll wasn’t’.
The only break Newcastle would get from the constant onslaught was the mercy of a drinks break on 24 minutes.
Then, normal service resumed…
The football from City may be breathtaking but for Newcastle it was, other than the desperate defending, an absolute embarrassment.
A save from Darlow from a Sterling shot and a Laporte header that did everything but nestle in the net great chances for City in the first half.
Between those chances however it would take the award of a penalty for City to break the deadlock. A clear push from Schar on Jesus in the box an obvious spot kick. De Bruyne sending Darlow the wrong way.
Somehow Newcastle managed to make it to half time at just 1-0 down.
In the second half at least the black and whites would have a go.
Not content to allow City the freedom of the Park anymore Bruce gave his men licence to push onto City and close down higher up the pitch. The difference was palpable, even if it did leave City with more room to play into.
On 65 minutes Dwight Gayle, fresh from scoring seconds into his last substitute appearance had THE most glorious chance to repeat the trick. Only he will know how, from 6 yards out in the centre of the goal, he managed to hammer the ball over.
Give it two minutes and City would make Newcastle pay. Laporte with a bullet of a ball to Foden, he then found Sterling who cut in form the left and placed a beauty beyond the left hand of Darlow.
Newcastle huffed and puffed and at least made the game a contest in the second period but the chasm was just too much to close.
And that was that.
Season over for Newcastle United as City progress to play Arsenal in the Semi Final with Manchester United against Chelsea the other tie.