Kyle Walker’s brilliant second-half strike preserved Premier League champions Manchester City’s unbeaten start to the season as they secured a battling victory over winless Newcastle. Full-back Walker was the match-winner with his first goal for the club, picking the ball up 30 yards out and drilling a low finish into the far corner of the net. City had seen title rivals Liverpool and Chelsea win earlier on Saturday and had to work hard for three points to keep pace at the top end of the table.
Pep Guardiola’s side were forcing the issue against a Newcastle side set up to defend at Etihad Stadium and took the lead within the opening 10 minutes through Raheem Sterling’s curled effort. But the home side missed clear-cut chances and were punished when striker Salomon Rondon set up DeAndre Yedlin to stroke home the equaliser before half-time.
It proved to be Newcastle’s only shot on target in the match, however, and Rafael Benitez’s beleaguered side have now collected just one point from their first four games.
City keep pace with early leaders
City strolled to the title last season with a record number of points, victories and goals but early indications suggest they will have to battle much harder to claim back-to-back triumphs. No team has managed to achieve the feat since rivals Manchester United won three in a row between 2007 and 2009, with leaders Liverpool and second-placed Chelsea two points ahead in the table and boasting 100% records after four games.
City drew against Wolves last time out and having been pegged back against the Magpies, it looked as if they might drop further points, but England international Walker’s rasping drive in the second half was the difference.
The hosts had signalled their intent from the off as club record signing Riyad Mahrez dragged a shot wide, before Sterling opened the scoring with a brilliant strike on seven minutes. Striker Sergio Aguero narrowly failed to add to his 14 goals against Newcastle, coming close with an effort that went just wide.
Little to smile about for Newcastle
Newcastle’s wretched form against City now stretches to 22 top-flight meetings without victory. They have lost their last 10 away from home against these opponents. The north-east side were knocked out of the Carabao Cup in midweek by Championship side Nottingham Forest and already occupy one of the relegation spots in the Premier League.
With talks of unrest between manager Benitez and owner Mike Ashley – one report saying the two do not speak directly – and a training group row between captain Jamaal Lascelle and Matt Ritchie, it looks like being a difficult season for Newcastle.
Benitez was criticised for his unadventurous approach in the loss to Chelsea in their previous league game, where they had just 19% possession, and they fared only slightly better with 21% against City. And as in the defeat at Stamford Bridge, they failed to hold out after equalising, with summer signing Rondon cutting an isolated figure at the top of the pitch for much of the game.
Source: BBC News