Manchester City 3-1 Newcastle United: Sergio Aguero hat-trick too much for Magpies
By Richard Morgan
Last Updated: 21/01/18 4:49pm
Sergio Aguero's hat-trick helped Manchester City beat Newcastle 3-1 at the Etihad to keep Pep Guardiola's side 12 points clear at the top of the Premier League table.
City broke the deadlock after 34 minutes when Aguero nodded in Kevin De Bruyne's inch-perfect cross, before the Argentinian's penalty doubled the lead (63).
Four minutes later Jacob Murphy pulled one back with his first goal for Newcastle, only for that man Aguero to seal the win with his 11th hat-trick for City, and his 22nd goal of the season.
Man City: Ederson (6), Walker (7), Stones (6), Otamendi (6), Zinchenko (8), David Silva (7), Fernandinho (7), Sane (8), Sterling (7), De Bruyne (8), Aguero (9)
Subs: Bernardo Silva (6) ,Diaz (6)
Newcastle: Darlow (8), Dummett (8), Clark (7), Lascelles (6), Manquillo (6), Murphy (8), Diame (6), Atsu (6), Hayden (6), Shelvey (6), Joselu (5)
Subs: Gayle (6), Perez (6), Yedlin (6)
Man of the match: Sergio Aguero
As a result, City stay 12 points ahead of rivals Manchester United at the summit, while the visitors are just two points clear of the relegation zone in 15th.
City kicked off knowing United had won at Burnley to cut the gap at the top of the table to nine points, but if the home team were feeling the pressure, particularly after their first defeat of the league season to Liverpool on Sunday, then they did not show any signs of it in the first half.
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Right from the start Guardiola's team went on the attack against opponents clearly intent again on playing for a draw, with the visitors playing with five at the back in their attempts to frustrate City.
For the opening half an hour of the contest, however, Rafa Benitez's plan appeared to be working, with Karl Darlow, despite City's domination of both possession and territory, not called upon to make a save.
Benitez's game plan went out the window, though, when City - who had earlier seen a Raheem Sterling effort ruled out for offside - opened the scoring through Aguero 11 minutes before half-time.
David Silva returned for City after a stomach problem, but left-back Fabian Delph missed out with a knee injury, with Oleksandr Zinchenko replacing him on his Premier League debut.
Newcastle striker Dwight Gayle was on the bench after picking up a knock against Swansea last weekend, although Florian Lejeune and Jesus Gamez were out with injury.
Moments before Darlow had denied David Silva with an excellent point-blank save, only for City to take a quick throw to De Bruyne on the left flank.
The Belgian, given too much time and space, looked up and crossed perfectly for Aguero to glance the home team ahead with the faintest of touches at the near post.
City doubled their lead just past the hour-mark when Raheem Sterling's run into the box was ended when Javier Manquillo hauled the winger down, with Aguero, despite Darlow's best efforts, driving the ball home from the penalty spot.
However, totally out of the blue Newcastle pulled a goal back as Ciaran Clark's inch-perfect through-ball released Murphy and faced with just Ederson to beat, the midfielder kept his cool to chip the advancing Brazilian.
Any hope the visitors may have had, though, of escaping with an unlikely draw ended with seven minutes to go as Leroy Sane's mesmerising run and quick feet took him past a posse of Newcastle players, and the German then found Aguero, whose neat finish gave the striker a 'perfect' hat-trick.
- City are now unbeaten in 21 Premier League matches against Newcastle (W18 D3) - extending their longest ever unbeaten run against a side in their league history
- Newcastle have lost nine consecutive top-flight away matches versus City - their joint-worst losing run against a team (also vs Spurs between 1928 and 1956)
- Aguero, who made his 200th Premier League appearance for ity, has had a hand in 16 goals against Newcastle in 11 appearances in the competition (14 goals, 2 assists)
- Aguero (22) is the third player to score 20+ goals in all competitions for a Premier League team this season after Harry Kane (28) and Mo Salah (24)
- De Bruyne and Sane have each provided 10 assists in the Premier League this season - a joint-high.
- Murphy scored his first Newcastle goal in what was his 19th appearance for the club in all competitions
- Sterling has won more penalties in the Premier League this season than any other player (4).
- Zinchenko completed 107 passes in this match, just four fewer than the whole of the Newcastle team combined (111)
Pep Guardiola: "We are not going to buy a striker because we have him (Aguero) and in two to three weeks Gabriel (Jesus) is back. Sergio has his special talent because he didn't touch the ball before his first goal, and there are no words to describe how good he is in a special position, and I am so happy for him.
"The club always tries to improve the team and tries to help the guys to be closer to reach our targets, (but) if one person decides not to come we are not going to be sad - this chapter is over, it is finished and we are going to think about the future."
Rafa Benitez: "Obviously I'm not happy because we lost, but the teamwork and team spirit was quite positive," he added.
"They had a penalty which was very soft and we had chances after that. It's a pity, but you have to say they are a very good team."
Man of the Match - Sergio Aguero
Aguero scored the first perfect Premier League hat-trick since the Argentina international himself recorded one against, of all teams, Newcastle in October 2015.
Not only that, but in the absence of the injured Gabriel Jesus, the 29-year-old showed yet again just what a key figure he is in Guardiola's line-up, calming City nerves by opening the scoring before half-time.
And then the forward ended any hope of a Newcastle fightback by netting his and City's third near the end, the player's seventh Premier League hat-trick since August 2011 and his 138th league strike for the club in just 200 appearances.
City travel to Bristol City for the Sky Live second leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final on Tuesday night looking to protect a 2-1 lead, before a trip to Cardiff City in the FA Cup fourth round on Sunday, January 28.
Newcastle, meanwhile, take on champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in their FA Cup fourth-round clash, with that tie also taking place a week on Sunday.