City on brink of glory
Manchester City have one hand on the Premier League trophy after Yaya Toure's double fired them to a 2-0 success over Newcastle United.
Last Updated: 06/05/12 5:50pm
Manchester City have one hand on the Premier League trophy after Yaya Toure's double fired them to a 2-0 success over Newcastle United at St James' Park.
Having climbed to the top of the table on goal difference with Monday's derby victory over Manchester United, Roberto Mancini's men remain above Sir Alex Ferguson's side, who beat Swansea later on Sunday, going into the final weekend.
City now know that they will celebrate their first top-flight crown since 1968 if they can overcome relegation-threatened Queens Park Rangers, and former manager Mark Hughes, at the Etihad Stadium next weekend.
A tense afternoon on Tyneside was settled by two goals from Toure, with the Ivory Coast international given more freedom by the introduction of midfield enforcer Nigel de Jong in place of Samir Nasri in the 61st minute.
The deadlock was broken just nine minutes later as Toure curled home a superb shot from outside the box which gave Tim Krul no chance after exchanging passes with Sergio Aguero, with De Jong also involved in the build-up to the goal.
With the Magpies pushing for an equaliser in their UEFA Champions League chase, City broke from a corner with Toure sweeping the ball home from close range after a neat move involving Aguero, De Jong and Gael Clichy.
City's last triumph 44 years ago came courtesy of a 4-3 win at St James' Park, and this victory could prove almost as pivotal.
Mancini's players celebrated just as lustily as their fans high in the stand behind Krul's goal after the final whistle with the promise of glory tantalisingly close.
With the vast majority of a raucous crowd of 52,389 behind them, the Magpies flew out of the blocks to pin the visitors back inside their own half, although without ever looking like troubling keeper Joe Hart.
But as the half wore on, City's class and guile saw them gradually ease into a position of dominance.
With Carlos Tevez and David Silva targeting right-back James Perch, playing in yet another role with Danny Simpson injured, they threatened to open the scoring on several occasions before the break.
That they did not was testament to Krul and the stubborn refusal of the men in front of him to concede.
Perch and Yohan Cabaye blocked shots from Nasri and Toure in quick succession and Krul produced excellent saves to deny first Silva and then Aguero from close range inside the opening 17 minutes with Mancini's men flexing their muscles.
Newcastle were sinking ever deeper towards their own goalline in an effort to keep City at bay, but from somewhere, they found the strength to first stem the tide, and then turn it in their direction.
Demba Ba, without a goal in 12 games, sent a 29th-minute shot on the turn just over after Hatem Ben Arfa's spring-heeled run down the right and then saw another snapshot blocked by Clichy before Ben Arfa forced a superb diving save from Hart from the rebound.
Ba then headed over from Ben Arfa's 40th-minute cross after good work from Jonas Gutierrez with a breathless contest showing no sign of abating.
However, it took heroic blocks from first Fabricio Coloccini and then Davide Santon to keep out Gareth Barry four minutes before the break.
Krul's clean sheet was in peril once again within seven minutes of the restart when Perch tripped Tevez after the Argentinian had wriggled away from him, but Toure's free-kick flew harmlessly over the bar.
Such was Newcastle's determination not to concede that winger Gutierrez turned up inside his own penalty area to head Silva's 53rd-minute cross clear, and Krul had to make a smart save from Tevez's snapshot from distance.
But with the pace of Ben Arfa and Cisse worrying City on the break, Newcastle not only managed to keep them out, but to press them back.
Mancini decided the time for change had arrived and with 61 minutes gone, replaced Nasri with De Jong, the man whose tackle last season left Ben Arfa with a double leg fracture, a fact which had obviously not been forgotten by the home fans.
Ben Arfa almost provided the Dutchman with the perfect welcome within three minutes when, after being picked out by Ba, he twisted and turned his way in on goal, only to screw his right-foot shot wide.
De Jong's arrival allowed Toure to push further forward, and the move paid dividends with 20 minutes remaining.
Seconds after Edin Dzeko had replaced Tevez, Toure exchanged passes with Aguero 25 yards out and guided a curling right-foot shot past Krul and into the bottom corner.
It should have been all over within five minutes when Silva played in Aguero over the top, but with just Krul to beat, he side-footed wide.
Cisse might have claimed a point with a close-range header from substitute Shola Ameobi's 79th-minute cross, but for once, he failed to hit the target.
Toure should have made sure six minutes from time, but fell over as he attempted to round Krul, who managed to touch over Aguero's follow-up.But the powerhouse midfielder wrapped up the points with a minute remaining when he accepted Clichy's pass six yards out and beat Krul to end Newcastle's hopes of a fightback.
|Newcastle United||Team Statistics||Manchester City|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|3||Shots on Target||8|
|5||Shots off Target||8|
|44||1st Half Poss.||56|
|43.4||2nd Half Poss.||56.6|