Manchester City increased the pressure on Newcastle boss Sam Allardyce with only their second away win of the season.
Elano and Fernandes sink Newcastle at St James'Manchester City increased the pressure on Newcastle boss Sam Allardyce with only their second away win of the season. Goals in either half from Elano and substitute Gelson Fernandes condemned the Magpies to their third successive defeat of the festive period. Owner Mike Ashley and chairman Chris Mort have denied they are looking to replace Allardyce, but even before the game Mort admitted that results had failed to live up to their expectations. Elano put Sven Goran Eriksson's men in front in the 38th minute as he deftly curled the ball into the bottom corner of the net after a superb move involving Stephen Ireland and Darius Vassell. Michael Owen almost equalised seconds after coming on at the interval, only to be denied by Joe Hart's outstretched boot, with Fernandes showing the England international the real way to make an impact. The City sub had been on the field for just 40 seconds when he was found in space on the edge of the box by Kelvin Etuhu and made no mistake as he fired a first-time effort beyond the despairing Given 14 minutes from time. That the Magpies should have emerged with something to show for their efforts will be little consolation to fans who have seen the season go from bad to worse.
PressureNewcastle face a tricky trip to Coca-Cola Championship Stoke in the FA Cup third round on Sunday, and a poor result there will heap the pressure on Allardyce, who will lose four men to the African Cup of Nations during the next few days. City arrived on Tyneside with Darius Vassell operating as a lone striker and content to try to hit the Magpies on the break as they looked for their first league win away from Eastlands since the opening day of the season. The home side, having been robbed of a point at Chelsea by a controversial offside decision on Saturday, responded with an enterprising display and had they have taken any of the hatful of chances they created before the break, they might have given an appreciative home crowd something tangible to cheer. Visiting keeper Hart knew little about the fifth-minute Habib Beye header which flew his way, and only his positioning kept the Senegal international's close-range effort out.
PepperedThereafter, the Magpies peppered his goal with Abdoulaye Faye testing him twice from distance and Obafemi Martins blasting fierce effort his way. However, the Nigerian was guilty of not making the most of a series of openings as the visitors found themselves pinned back, and he was not alone with Charles N'Zogbia scuffing another effort at Hart and then sending a low cross too far ahead of the unmarked Mark Viduka. Eriksson's side had started to show flashes of their ability to hit teams on the counter, and it took a good save from Given to deny Martin Petrov when he fired in an angled drive from the left on 31 minutes. However, having earlier survived a dismal back-pass by Claudio Cacapa which Ireland squandered, they were hit seven minutes before the break.
AdmireThere was much to admire about Vassell's lay-off to Elano and the aplomb with which the Brazilian curled the ball beyond Given and into the bottom corner, but Allardyce could only shake his head and appeal to the heavens as another game started to slip away. He decided to replace Martins with Owen at the break, and the change almost had the desired effect with less than a minute gone. N'Zogbia picked out the £17million man's run and he was on the ball in a flash, only to see Hart block his right-foot shot with his leg. Newcastle were starting to re-establish their momentum, although were struggling to open the visitors up, with N'Zogbia's speculative 35-yard effort symptomatic of their problems.
DesperationAs the home side's desperation grew, central defender Cacapa twice found himself in advanced positions down the left, but was unable to make the most of either opportunity. However, Micah Richards had to make a vital block to deny Viduka a near-post tap-in from N'Zogbia's 63rd-minute cross. Allardyce, who had earlier replaced the tiring Duff with Jose Enrique, sent on Emre for Faye with 17 minutes remaining, but the game was effectively over before they had broken sweat. City replacements Etuhu and and Fernandes combined after Vedran Corluka's ball into the box for the latter to fire past Given and shatter Allardyce's hopes of a fightback as another bad night at St James' ended to a chorus of disapproval from the fans who had stayed for the final whistle.
|Newcastle United||Team Statistics||Manchester City|
|0||1st Half Goals||1|
|10||Shots on Target||5|
|7||Shots off Target||5|