English Premier League
Saturday 19 November 2011, 15.00 KO
City: Hart, Richards, Kompany (c), Lescott, Clichy, de Jong, Y Toure (Barry 85), Milner, Nasri, Aguero (A Johnson 77), Balotelli (Silva 69)
Unused: Pantilimon, Kolarov, K Toure, Dzeko
Goals: Balotelli (pen 41), Richards (43), Aguero (pen 72)
Referee: Chris Foy
Man of the Match: James Milner
Newcastle started the game brightly by pressing the home side in possession of the ball. Neither side were quick out of the traps to create chances, but it was City who looked the more dangerous, as Nasri couldn’t find a shot in the area and Balotelli couldn’t turn Richards’s low cross into the net from inside the six yard box.
Aguero chanced his arm from outside the box with a neat turn and shot, but it was just over the bar with Krul flapping at thin air. Balotelli then forced a good save from the visiting keeper, as he headed towards goal – either side of the Newcastle shot-stopper and it would have been the opening goal.
Hart was called into action mid-way through the first half as the visitors had their first meaningful spell of possession. A neat one-two on the edge of the box by-passed Kompany and Lescott, leaving Ba with the chance to shoot, but he couldn’t find the corner of the net and the England international was able to get the ball around his post.
And just as the game appeared to be trundling to half time goalless, a moment of City pressure earned the home side a penalty, after Yaya Toure’s shot at goal was blocked by the arm of Taylor. Balotelli stepped up and he wasn’t put off by Krul, sliding the ball into the bottom right corner.
Two minutes later, City had doubled their lead. A ball into the box looked to have bounced to the Newcastle defence, but Micah Richards pressed Ryan Taylor, who didn’t have as much time as he thought. The City full back blocked his clearance and volleyed the ball into the net with his left foot and the hosts were two up at the break.
With the hour mark approaching, a good exchange between Nasri and Aguero almost put Balotelli in, but the chance was cleared from a yard in front of the line as Taylor got back to recover well, before an uncharacteristic miss-control from Kompany gifted the ball to Ben Arfa on the edge of the box. He beat two men and fired at Hart’s goal, but saw his effort bounce back off the post and Clichy was there to clear.
Aguero put the ball in the net again, but he’d been flagged for offside when through on goal – though, had he let Yaya Toure pick up the ball and carry it at goal, the flag would have stayed down. On the breakaway, Hart was down quickly to push away a Ryan Taylor effort with Clichy again across to clear. Silva then sent Richards through on goal and he was tripped, resulting in the hosts’ second spot kick of the day – with Balotelli substituted, Aguero found the back of the net.
Nasri was frustrated to be given offside twice in as many minutes as he looked to add to City’s tally, before, with two minutes of normal time remaining, the visitors pulled a goal back. Hart was out quickly to block an effort from Ameobi, but the rebound deflected to Gosling and, faced with an open goal from four yards out, he was never going to miss. That goal, though, came too late to change where the points were heading and City were left the only unbeaten team in the Premier League.