Newcastle United come back twice to put another dent in City's title hopes
Newcastle United 2-2 Manchester City
Newcastle came back twice against the English Champions to take a point in what was ultimately an entertaining 2-2 draw.
Hot on the back of Monday nights debacle against Aston Villa, United had needed a performance and ideally at least a point from a tough home tie against Manchester City.
And that’s exactly what Newcastle got.
City going ahead from a close range Sterling effort on 22 minutes should have set the Champions on their way. Instead a first assist of his Newcastle career for Miggy Almiron set up Willems who finished with aplomb to take the sides in level at half time. Newcastle, well organised and resolute.
Into the second half and it was more of the same. But with a 1-1 draw looking most likely it then seemed City had nicked it. A wonder strike from De Bruyne from 20 yards on 82 minutes providing a moment of magic lacking throughout most of the game. But Newcastle United weren’t prepared to take that. And with just 2 minutes left on the clock a clever free kick from Atsu, cutting back to outside the box with everyone expecting a cross, allowed Jonjo Shelvey to unleash his own rocked from 25 yards in front of the Gallowgate.
2-2 then and a fully deserved point for the Magpies.
Steve Bruce would make just the single change from the Monday Night Football game with Manquillo coming in for the injured Yedlin. Perhaps somewhat of a surprise given that performance. Andy Carroll would also be missing from the bench after he picked up a rib injury in training.
STARTING XI: Dubravka, Manquillo, Fernandez, Clark, Dummett, Willems, Hayden, Shelvey, Saint-Maximin (Atsu, 80), Almiron, Joelinton (Gayle, 69)
The game settled into exactly the pattern anyone would have expected. City with huge spells of the ball and Joelinton cutting a lonely figure up front but with two willing runners either side whenever there was a sniff of a break upfield.
It would take 22 minutes for the first significant action. City pressing high would force the Newcastle back line into a rare moment of panic and after some ping-pong in the United 18 yard box the ball would fall to Sterling who made no mistake form 10 yards out.
You’d have been forgiven for thinking that United would fold after that. No such thing.
Just four minutes later a good move at the other end, with Almiron switching to the left, saw some neat play to set Almiron free in the box. His perfectly weighted pass to Willems allowed the Newcastle number 15 to slam one into Ederson’s bottom left corner. A lovely finish and a first ever assist for a visibly elated Almiron.
City had looked a little off colour before the goals, finding a difficult to find their way through a Newcastle side happy to sit on the edge of their own box. And the game settled back into that pattern after both those goals. 1-1 then at half time.
Into the second half and a lung busting run from Fernandez enabled him to push a ball through to Joelinton who got on the wrong side of Fernandinho who felled the United forward and got a yellow with the forward possibly about to run clear. Probably the correct decision only to show a yellow with some blue shirts racing back.
Indeed Joelinton played well throughout this one. Holding the ball well and certainly causing the City back line to work harder than they would have liked.
As the game moved passed the hour mark there had been little in terms of clear cut chances for either side. United keeping their shape and City continuing to be slow in their build up.
It seemed it was going to take a mistake or a moment of magic too bring the game to life again.
City did come close on 68 minutes however. A ball setting Jesus clean through called Dubravka into action first to block from point blank range from the initial shot and then to deny De Bruyne on the follow up.
And a moment of magic it would be. De Bruyne the man. With seemingly little on for City, De Bruyne would chest a high clearance down and unleash an absolute rocket from just outside the United box, in off the underside of the bar. Nothing Dubravka could do about that one and perhaps harsh on a Newcastle side that had dealt with everything to that point.
You’d have to say that City were however riding their luck. There should certainly have been a review for a foul in the build up and moment later a foul on the edge of the box by Fernandinho should have resulted in a second yellow for the City player.
From the resultant free-kick however there would be the second absolute screamer of the game.
Take a bow Jonjo Shelvey!
This time a well worked free kick with Atsu pulling the ball back from what was essentially a short corner to the edge of a crowded box allowed Shelvey to brilliantly fire home. Joy for the home faithful.
Inside 4 minutes of injury time and there was one more huge chance for the visitors. A ball over the top finding who else but Sterling who, when completely unmarked, would hit a shot low at Dubravka who would make a great save.
But that would be that. Another good point for Bruce and his team against one of the so called ‘big sides’.
A little mention of the crowd too. 49,937 the attendance although you wouldn’t know from the lack of atmosphere. If Newcastle can’t sell out for this one, you’d have to consider the boycott continues to hit home.