4:53pm Saturday 30th March 2013
By Paul Fraser
Manchester City 4 Newcastle United 0
MANCHESTER CITY handed Newcastle United a huge reminder that there is still work to be done by Alan Pardew to preserve Premier League status this season.
The reigning champions, who closed the gap back to 15 points to leaders Manchester United after their win at Sunderland earlier in the day, comfortably claimed all three points against the Magpies at the Etihad Stadium.
Newcastle never really got to grips with the City fluency, particularly down the visitors' right, during a first half when Roberto Mancini's men secured a two-goal cushion.
The first arrived four minutes before half-time when left-back Gael Clichy lost his marker, Gabriel Obertan, to deliver a low ball across the six-yard box for Carlos Tevez to slide in.
With almost the last kick of the half, City made it two. This time Samir Nasri danced round Obertan, slid a pass in to David Silva's feet and the Spaniard drove a few yards before picking out Rob Elliot's far corner.
Obertan, whose combination with the recalled Danny Simpson was the root of many of Newcastle's early problems, paid the price and was taken off at the break.
And the introduction of James Perch, playing centrally to allow Vurnon Anita to switch wide, seemed to have had the desired effect - for ten minutes.
But after Yohan Cabaye had gone close at one end, Manchester City attacked at the other and won a corner.
From the dead ball, Newcastle could only clear to the edge of the area where Gareth Barry's drive at goal was flicked in a different direction by Vincent Kompany and over the line.
And with 20 minutes remaining City made the game safer. This time the static black and white defence allowed Yaya Toure to burst through and his shot took a wicked deflection off Perch before Elliot could only help it in at his near post.
Newcastle, who must now pick themselves up for Thursday's Europa League quarter-final with Benfica, are now just three points above the Premier League's bottom three with seven matches remaining.
And while this week's trip to Portugal is important for the club, perhaps it should not be under-estimated just how strongly Newcastle need to overcome Fulham at St James' Park four days later.
MANCHESTER CITY (4-2-3-1): Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany (Garcia 73), Lescott, Clichy; Barry, Toure; Silva (Sinclair 83), Tevez, Nasri (Aguero 71); Dzeko. Subs (not used): Pantilimon (gk), K Toure, Kolarov, Milner.
NEWCASTLE UNITED (4-2-3-1): Elliot; Simpson, Taylor, Yanga-Mbiwa, Gutierrez; Cabaye (Bigirimana 74), Anita; Obertan (Perch 46), Sissoko, Gouffran (Gosling 63); Cisse. Subs: Marveaux, Good, Harper (gk), Campbell.
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