Barclay’s Premier League
Sunday 26 December 2010, 15.00 KO
City: Hart, Boateng, Lescott, Kompany, Kolarov, Y Touré (Vieira 83), de Jong, Barry, Silva (A Johnson 70), Milner, Tevez (c) (Balotelli 86)
Unused: Given, Zabaleta, Richards, Jo
Goals: Barry (2), Tevez (5, 81)
Booked: Silva, Lescott, Hart, A Johnson, Balotelli
Referee: Chris Foy
Man of the Match: Gareth Barry
The game was only 90 seconds old when City showed how they intended to approach it. The visitors opened the scoring through Barry, with a helping hand from the Newcastle defence as well. Krul played a short ball out that was stolen by Tevez and he laid it on for Barry to find the net, through the keeper’s legs.
And it got better for the away side just two minutes later. Tevez found Milner wide on the right and his ball straight back into the box found the little Argentinean striker, who was able to slot the ball into the top corner from close range, giving City the perfect start.
A minute later and the home side could have been back in the game. Carroll had the chance to head into the net from close range, but Joe Hart was on hand to pluck the effort out of the air and hold it, making it look a much simpler save than it actually was.
Carroll then fired a low cross towards Nolan, but the former Bolton man couldn’t connect to it, before Kolarov came close to making it three for City, as his left footed effort rifled just over the bar from outside the box.
With 20 minutes gone, Yaya Touré, with more time and space than perhaps he realised, volleyed high and wide from the edge of the box, after Coloccini had nipped in to clear Barry’s low ball in. Had he not, it would have been an easy finish for Milner.
Nolan picked up a yellow card for a late challenge on Milner as the former Newcastle man cleared the ball from the byline. Silva then picked up a yellow for a high challenge on Barton, while Tioté and Touré clashed as tempers began to flare.
An Andy Carroll effort then nearly found the net after it deflected off Nolan, but Hart had it covered, before Tevez lost the ball as he tried to wriggle free in the Newcastle box. Krul was out quickly as the City forward won it back, but he couldn’t quite find room to get the shot in.
A minute from half time, Tevez gave the ball away in midfield and allowed Newcastle to build an attack. It lead to a diving header from Carroll, but that too flicked off Nolan and spun wide of the post.
City started the second half quickly, just as they had done the first, earning themselves a corner as Newcastle still looked like they were on their half time break. Kolarov’s vicious cross was cleared, before his shot from the rebound skewed wide of the post.
Newcastle began to press, but couldn’t quite force a shot on goal from a corner, before Lescott couldn’t find his feet in the Newcastle box after he had stayed forward from a corner, his shot deflecting clear.
With the hour approaching, Kompany was penalised for a foul and the set piece from Barton needed to be punched away by Hart. Barton and Kolarov then injured each other as neither pulled out of a challenge on the left flank, though neither of them were going to drop out of the game.
Gutierrez then headed over, before Nolan attempted to curl one in to the back post from the edge of the box, but he got his angles wrong and Joe Hart was able to catch comfortably. Gutierrez then missed a header as the ball bounced behind, and City were hanging on to their two goal lead.
And the goal did come for the home side. Barton swung a corner into the middle and it was met by the unmarked Andy Carroll, who planted it into the net. Hart picked up a yellow card for complaining that he was fouled by Kevin Nolan and the City keeper had a point, but Chris Foy wasn’t moved.
City were on the ropes and Newcastle came close again, as Hart came off his line to punch but missed completely, but Ranger flicked his header wide. Tevez then had an isolated chance for City, as he broke away, but he decided to cut inside onto his right foot instead of taking the shot with his left and Newcastle got bodies back.
Nolan dived in at the far post after Ranger had nodded down with just over ten minutes to play, but he could only flick the ball wide with his studs as Kompany and Hart tried to scramble it clear.
But City showed what they were made of as the clock ticked past 80. Milner found Tevez on the left and he broke through the challenge of Barton. A quick one-two with Adam Johnson gave Tevez the chance to cut inside and shoot – the shot flicked off two defenders and finished in the net, via Coloccini’s bottom.
That goal killed off the game and City were content to see out the match with Newcastle pressing forward and the visitors defending stoutly. After a great start for the Blues, it was certainly three points well earned, as Newcastle showed they were no pushovers.