Defensive error allows Rúben Dias to open scoring in 5th minute
João Cancelo drive puts visitors two-up before half-time
Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling complete job as Man City secure Christmas top spot
“We’re richer than you,” sang Newcastle fans. While this is true, they will also be the wealthiest team in the Championship next season with the defending they showed against the Premier League champions.
In the Gulf State derby, there was a gulf in class as Ruben Dias, Joao Cancelo, Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling scored the goals, some of them gift-wrapped ahead of Christmas. Pep Guardiola rated it as the worst first half his City team have played this season yet the game was already won.
The television cameras panned to the directors’ box in the second half as the goals went in and the look on Amanda Staveley’s face was that of concern. After brokering the deal for Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund to control Newcastle, she now needs to form a plan like City did when bought by their Abu Dhabi owners.
Come Boxing Day it will be the midway point of the season and Howe’s team need something drastic to change. Their form of one victory all season will take them into the second tier, regardless of PIF’s cash.
City have beaten better teams than Newcastle this season but their mistakes will be a concern to Eddie Howe. Pep Guardiola’s players won at a canter, playing at a jogging pace towards the end as they took players off to keep fresh.
One Newcastle fan raced to get Cancelo’s shirt at the final whistle next to the tunnel. It was the only concession the Portugal international made all afternoon as he ran the game from full-back.
“It was an exceptional result and not a good performance at all, the first half was one of the worst we have played this season,” said Guardiola. “We were lucky with the goal we scored at the beginning, the Newcastle defenders misunderstood and were confused.”
Newcastle’s cause was not helped by their best attacker, Allan Saint-Maximin, only being fit for half the match after a calf issue in midweek, while Jonjo Shelvey missed out altogether with a muscle problem. How they need them back to their best to offer hope of climbing out of the relegation zone.
Guardiola needed to pass a fitness test of his own before the game, after a lateral-flow proved inconclusive. Only after a negative PCR was he allowed to travel and unleash his attackers on Howe’s depleted defence.
To underline Guardiola’s strength in depth, he could take Jack Grealish and Phil Foden out of his team and look just as potent, albeit being given a helping hand by Newcastle’s defending gifting them the advantage.
Howe was in his technical area yelling “ball….ball!” to his players, urging them to press City’s blur of movement. But he was soon silenced by his players finding calamitous new ways of conceding.
As Cancelo bounced the ball into the six-yard area Newcastle were in total control of the situation, only for Ciaran Clark to leave the ball for his goalkeeper to collect. Martin Dubravka failed to get the memo and it allowed Dias to head in his second of the season. If at the other end, the Portuguese centre-back would have undoubtedly cleared to safety.
The defending was little better for the second goal, which rendered the contest all-but over. Cancelo, who will dubiously pick up an “assist”, for the first goal, doubled the lead by finding the top corner from the edge of the area.
He took advantage of weak defending from Joe Willock, with Cancelo gliding past the former Arsenal midfielder. Isaac Hayden slipped at a crucial moment but it would not have pleased Howe that three Newcastle players were close to Cancelo as he struck. None of them were close to him.
It furthered Cancelo’s case to be player-of-the-year this season. He has now been directly involved in 10 goals including his assists, the first time a defender has reached double figures in a Guardiola team since David Alaba for Bayern Munich in 2013-14.
City fans sang the name of Sheikh Mansour and teased the hosts about getting relegated despite their wealth. Howe’s players did not throw in the towel and could point to Ryan Fraser getting taken out by Ederson off the ball as a moment that could have given them a path back.
VAR bizarrely did not look at the foul, with Newcastle assistant Jason Tindall taking the matter up with Martin Atkinson at half-time as they walked to the tunnel. At 2-1 there would have been hope, instead City threatened to rack up a big score like the 7-0 against Leeds United in midweek.
“I’m shaking my head at it as the goalkeeper is out of control and it is a stonewall penalty,” said Howe.
City added to the punishment in the second half with a sweeping move that Mahrez finished off with a volley after Oleksandr Zinchenko’s cross. The flag had gone up for offside but VAR, finally called into action, corrected the decision.
Sterling tapped in during the latter stages after Gabriel Jesus’ work down the left flank. By this stage many home fans had headed for the exits.
“We need to look at the errors very quickly,” added Howe. “They are the one team in the world you don’t want to chase the game against.”
Newcastle United vs Manchester City, as it happened:
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More Premier League action this afternoon as Liverpool head to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to face Spurs, who haven’t played a game in two weeks due to Covid.
Follow our live coverage of the match here.
One of Sterling’s easier finishes for City’s fourth…
FULL-TIME: NEWCASTLE UNITED 0-4 MANCHESTER CITY
Manchester City will be top for Christmas as the headaches continue for Eddie Howe’s Magpies.
Cancelo with a standout performance as Guardiola’s side were in total control throughout.
Two minutes of added time to come.
85 mins GOAL: NEWCASTLE UNITED 0-4 MANCHESTER CITY
Sterling! He’s got his 101st Premier League goal.
Cancelo with a delightful diagonal ball to pick out Jesus in the left channel who cuts inside and drives towards the goal line, before pulling the ball back across the face of goal for Sterling to easily tap it home.
What a save from Ederson! The ball is crossed in from the right and Wilson heads it to the top right of the Man City goal, but Ederson reacts rapidly to push it over the bar.
Newcastle knock again with a Saint-Maximim long-shot… it’s just inches above the City crossbar.
80 mins – final Newcastle sub
Saint-Maximim tries to dance behind the Manchester City defence, but he’s run into heavy congestion. No way through the City back line.
75 mins – another Man City sub
Mahrez off; Palmer on.
70 mins – a couple of Man City subs to tell you about
Ederson plays the ball out quickly after a brief Newcastle attack. It’s played long to Sterling on the left who surges towards the box and tries to squeeze the ball over to Mahrez on the far post, but it’s just away from him.
Mahrez cross from just inside the Newcastle box.
Dias gets headed flick on it to take it away from Jesus in the middle and Laporte at the far post.
62 mins – GOAL NEWCASTLE UNITED 0-3 MANCHESTER CITY
Mahrez! Zinchenko crosses the ball in from the left to play in Mahrez who makes it into the box and puts the ball past Dúbravka with a left-footed volley.
Goal allowed after VAR check deemed he was onside.
61 mins – Newcastle sub
De Bruyne picks the ball up from just inside City’s final third, he gets past his man and runs into the acres of space ahead of him. He plays through Cancelo, who has made the same run as Mahrez into the Newcastle box, but then blazes his shot over the bar.
Sterling uncharacteristically mistimes his control of the ball as it comes to him in space on the left. Newcastle throw-in after a dominant spell of Man City possession.
Dúbravka saves again, this time with a dive to his far left from a Sterling curler from outside the box.
Gabriel Jesus and Lascelles have clattered into each other and it’s a drop ball for Newcastle. Jesus is having some strong words with the Newcastle defender. He wasn’t happy about that coming together.
What a save from Dubravka! Cancelo crosses deep to Sterling on the back post, who heads it across goal to Gabriel Jesus to head it into the back of the net but for a great reaction from the Newcastle keeper to tip the ball over the bar and keep his team in the game.
Saint-Maximim is away up the left, tries to pick out Wilson who has surged into the box, but Laporte has sprinted back to close down the Magpies attack.
Joelinton with another strong run up the left. He beats his man and is ready to cross. He pulls it back, but Rodri has read that like a book and snuffs out the danger. Now City come again.
Ritchie gets an early cross in from the left after Saint-Maximim gets his first touches of the game.
But Ederson is to it.
Second half under way
City kick off.
Half-time Newcastle sub
Saint-Maximim is on; Willock is off.
HALF-TIME: NEWCASTLE UNITED 0-2 MANCHESTER CITY
Man City have looked coolly confident this half and fully deserve their lead.
Newcastle have had a few opportunities, with Joelinton being notably involved in all of them, but they’ve not been able to get enough possession so far.
Gabriel Jesus! De Bruyne finds a pocket of space to play in Jesus, who has made it onto the left side of the box. He takes a touch and strikes it just past the far-post. Sterling was bursting a gut to get onto the end of that.
Joelinton earns his side a corner. He muscles himself up the left-hand side and gets a cross away which is deflected out for a corner.
It’s crossed in to Hayden, who nods it just wide. Another half-chance for Newcastle.
Joelinton plays Wilson through, who gets into the City box, but blue shirts are all over him and he can’t get any space to shoot. It rolls back to Joelinton who has made it into the box too, but he’s swarmed upon and City clear their lines. A sniff of something there for the Magpies.
Cancelo, to Silva, to Mahrez on the right. He takes a touch and loops a cross in, but Dúbravka is on the receiving end.
Dias slots back into the heart of the City defence as they begin to slowly build again.
Newcastle are pressing hard, but City are trying to keep the tempo down.
Bernardo Silva has picked up a yellow for a foul just into City’s final third.
Tempers are fraying a bit here as Jesus then goes into Ritchie, leaving the Newcastle man to go crashing into the advertising boards.
Dias has gone off briefly to get treated for a small facial cut.
Controversial decision here. Ederson has clattered into Fraser, getting none of the ball. No penalty given.
26 mins GOAL: NEWCASTLE 0-2 MANCHESTER CITY
Cancelo! What a goal. He receives the ball from his right, I think it’s from Mahrez, as he gets just into the final third. He’s easily past Willock, cuts inside to open up some space and then smashes the ball, just inside the box, into the top-left corner.
Rodri picks up a yellow for a cynical foul on Willock on the half-way line. He’s lunged in there and doesn’t get any of the ball.
Bernardo Silva picks out Zinchenko with pulled-back pass from the edge of the box, left-hand side.
But it’s come just behind him and his first-time shot is into row z.
Hayden picks up the first yellow card of the game.
Rodri fouls Joelinton to earn the Magpies a free kick in a threatening position. It’s looped into the box, and the ball comes across to Callum Wilson who jumps with Ederson.
Wilson is grounded for a couple of moments, but he’s back on his feet now.
De Bruyne is dispossessed on the edge of his own box. Fraser pounces on him and manages to get a shot away which is cleared off the line.
Martin Atkinson deems Fraser went in too hard there. City free kick.
Almiron concedes a free kick deep into City’s half. He’s looked lively so far up that right-hand side.
Joelinton goes close! Almiron is up on the right-hand side of the City box, trying to get space for the cross. He eventually gets it across, it’s headed away by the City defence before dropping to Joelinton.
He gets his laces behind it and fires his shot just wide of Ederson’s right-hand post.
A second City corner, this time from the right hand side. Mahrez whips it in, Newcastle fail to properly clear. City patiently begin building again. It’s going to be a big ask for Newcastle this afternoon.
5 mins: GOAL NEWCASTLE 0-1 MAN CITY
Ruben Dias! It’s a catastrophe between Dúbravka and his defence.
Cancelo on the stretch on the right of the box, lobs the ball across the box. Clark and Debravka both leave it, a total mix up, and it falls to Ruben Dias to comfortably head home.
Wayward pass by Dúbravka to give City the first corner of the game.
Newcastle get us under way in a packed-out St James’ Park.
A reminder of the line ups as the players emerge out of the tunnel
Newcastle: Dubravka, Murphy, Clark, Lascelles, Ritchie, Almiron, Hayden, Willock, Fraser, Joelinton, Wilson.
Subs: Schar, Saint-Maximin, Hendrick, Krafth, Darlow, Anderson, Gayle, Longstaff, White.
Man City: Ederson, Joao Cancelo, Dias, Laporte, Zinchenko, Rodri, Bernardo Silva, Mahrez, De Bruyne, Sterling, Gabriel Jesus.
Subs: Stones, Ake, Gundogan, Grealish, Steffen, Fernandinho, Foden, Palmer, Wilson-Esbrand.
The warm ups are over and the teams will be out any moment now…
Pep Guardiola, speaking pre-match with Sky Sports, is asked whether he is close to his best. This is how he responds:
Never. We can always do better.
If Man City win today they’ll be top of the table at Christmas for the third time in their Premier League history.
On the other two occasions they went on to win the title.
Raheem Sterling returns to the starting XI, chasing his 101st goal today
Newcastle are due to host the red half of Manchester on the other side of Christmas
Away games to Everton and Southampton follow to wrap up the festive run of fixtures.
Man City have got Leicester (home), Brentford (away), before facing in-form Arsenal at the Emirates on New Year’s Day.
Chelsea have request to postpone today’s Wolves game rejected by Premier League
In the other 2pm kick off, Wolves host Chelsea at Molineux.
Telegraph Sport has learnt that the Premier League turned down the visitor’s request to postpone the game this morning and it could force Chelsea to have players on the bench who are struggling for fitness later this afternoon.
The Premier League declined to comment but we’ve been told its board ruled Chelsea had enough fit players to play today’s match.
On the team news
Eddie Howe has made five changes to the team that lost at Anfield on Thursday.
Three changes for Man City as Cancelo (who makes his 100th appearance for the club) comes back from suspension, with Grealish and Foden dropping to the bench as Gabriel Jesus and Sterling start.
Man City’s starting XI
Newcastle’s starting XI
Team news to come in a few minutes…
Watch this space
Hello and welcome to Telegraph Sport’s coverage of Manchester City’s trip to St James’ Park to take on Newcastle, one of only four Premier League fixtures this weekend amid the latest rise in Covid-19 infection rates.
Pep Guardiola has been cleared to travel with the Man City squad to Newcastle after an inconclusive Covid test led to the cancellation of his scheduled press conference on Friday.
The City boss took a follow-up PCR test which has since come back negative, allowing him to join his team for the Gulf State derby.
Guardiola, who lost his mother to coronavirus last year, told the club’s official website that all his players barring Ferran Torres were fit, while Joao Cancelo is available after missing the midweek rout of Leeds through suspension.
“Newcastle is a very tough opponent,” Guardiola said. “People will talk about our place in the table or their place in the table but when you go to Newcastle you know what sort of game to expect.
“Now they have a new manager in Eddie (Howe) and we know what a good manager he is.”
Guardiola added: “They have had a tough start to the season but they are a good team with good players and a top manager so we will go there and have to work hard for each other to win the game.”
City head into the weekend’s decimated round of fixtures with a one-point lead at the top of the table.
Newcastle manager Eddie Howe is hopeful his players can cope with the “unique challenge” of back-to-back matches against the Premier League’s top two.
Howe’s side had just 26 per cent possession in Thursday’s 3-1 defeat at Anfield and they can probably expect even less against the defending champions even though they face them at St James’ Park.
The physical exertion contributed to a hamstring injury to left-back Jamal Lewis and Allan Saint-Maximin sustaining a muscle problem and, while the Magpies boss will freshen up the team, he is asking for more of the same effort.
“I think the challenge we face with these two games, the reality is we are going to be without the ball for a long time and the physical effort of the players is really tested,” he said.
“It is a unique challenge for us with these two games back-to-back but the fact we are at home with the crowd behind us will hopefully inspire.
“We are going to obviously need to rotate the team and make sure the team that takes the pitch is as fresh as it can be.”