Man City began their latest Premier League reign with a thrilling 4-3 victory at Newcastle, with Ferran Torres' hat-trick helping City to more history.
Pep Guardiola's side walked out to a guard of honour at St James' Park, having clinched the Premier League title on Tuesday evening after Manchester United's defeat to Leicester gave them an unassailable lead.
It was a good thing they already had the trophy wrapped up too, otherwise Friday's game would have proved to be a nail-biting and nervous evening where the pendulum continuously swung between the two sides.
Newcastle - who are already assured of their own Premier League safety - took a shock lead when Emil Krafth (25) nodded home his first top-flight goal, beating Man City debutant Scott Carson. But City replied with a quick double - Joao Cancelo (39) and Torres' (42) superb first strike firing the champions in front.
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But there was more VAR drama to come in the first half. In the second minute of injury time, Nathan Ake's clumsy challenge saw Joelinton fouled in the area. Referee Kevin Friend initially turned down the penalty after Allan Saint-Maximin was adjudged to be offside in the build-up, but VAR ruled the Newcastle forward onside and the penalty was subsequently awarded. Joelinton (45+6) then hammered home from the spot to level things up before the break.
The second half continued in the same topsy-turvy vein. Newcastle were awarded another spot-kick just after the hour as Kyle Walker fouled Joe Willock. It was the Arsenal loanee who stepped up for the second, seeing his penalty saved by Carson but slotting home the rebound (62), scoring in his fifth successive Premier League game.
But Torres completed his hat-trick soon after (64, 66) - both smart finishes, much like his first - to seal a hard-earned three points for Man City.
It was their 12th successive away win in the Premier League - the most in the top four tiers of English league football - and beat the record held by Chelsea (2008) and themselves (2017).
Victory moves City onto 83 points at the top of the table, while a spirited Newcastle remain in 16th with both teams having two league games left to play.
How City edged Newcastle in seven-goal thriller
Unsurprisingly, Man City had early sights on goal. Ake sent an effort sailing wide, before Gabriel Jesus was gifted a chance by a poor defensive header from Paul Dummett, but his powerful hit just drifted past the post. Torres then went close with a superb run towards the near post, but his poked effort flashed side.
Man City continued to dominate, but it was in fact Newcastle who had the best chance until that point. It was a superb counter-attack as Krafth unleashed Allan Saint-Maximin, who in turn picked out Joelinton. But as he went to strike, Kyle Walker was across to make a crucial block.
🧤 35-year-old Scott Carson makes his Man City debut and his first appearance in the PL for a decade, against Newcastle tonight. His last match in the competition also came at St. James’ Park, playing for West Brom in a 3-3 draw v Newcastle in May 2011 pic.twitter.com/pGx9SuGxJB— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) May 14, 2021
And the corner handed Newcastle a shock lead. Jonjo Shelvey delivered the set piece with Krafth - in between two defenders - looped his header back across goal and into the far corner. Shelvey almost made it two ten minutes later. He lined up a free kick after a crunching Ake challenge on Miguel Almiron, but could only curl his free kick onto the crossbar.
Newcastle: Dubravka (7), Krafth (7), Fernandez (6), Dummett (6), Murphy (6), Shelvey (7), Willock (7), Ritchie (6), Almiron (7), Saint-Maximin (7), Joelinton (7).
Subs used: Lewis (n/a), Gayle (n/a), S Longstaff (n/a).
Man City: Carson (6), Walker (6), Garcia (7), Ake (5), Cancelo (7), Rodri (7), Gundogan (7), Sterling (6), Silva (7), Torres (8), Jesus (6).
Subs used: Mendy (6).
Man of the match: Ferran Torres.
Man City scored a quickfire double soon after. There was a touch of bad luck to the goal too as Cancelo's effort took a big deflection off Jacob Murphy on the way through, sending the ball darting past Martin Dubravka.
But City's second was a moment of sensational skill from Torres. Ilkay Gundogan whipped in a pacey free kick, with Torres edging ahead of Shelvey to brilliantly flick the ball golawards with his heel, sending it past an already-leaping Dubravka.
- Newcastle made just one enforced change as striker Joelinton replaced injured leading scorer Callum Wilson.
- Goalkeeper Scott Carson was handed his Man City debut and a first Premier League appearance in almost 10 years. He replaced Ederson in one of five changes. Kyle Walker, Eric Garcia, Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan also came in for Aymeric Laporte, Ruben Dias, Benjamin Mendy and Sergio Aguero.
The drama was not over there. In the third minute of added time, the Newcastle shouts went up for a penalty as Ake's sliding tackle brought down Joelinton in the area. The referee initially ruled out the calls for offside in the build-up.
VAR stepped in and after a lengthy check, deemed Saint-Maximin to be onside it the build-up and Ake's challenge to be enough for a penalty. Without regular penalty taker Callum Wilson, Joelinton stepped up and rocketed his effort past Carson to end an entertaining half.
As the clock ticked over the hour, the goals flooded into St James' Park. Newcastle were awarded their second penalty of the evening as Walker caught Willock inside the area in a clear foul. The Arsenal loanee - on a superb run of form - took this time, but his initially effort was superbly saved by Carson. But Willock was lurking and despite slipping, managed to reach the ball first and slot home.
Just like the first half though, the Premier League champions came out swinging as Torres made it 3-3 mere minutes later. Jesus cut the ball back into his path, waiting on the penalty spot, and it was a smart finish to level things up again.
The Spaniard nabbed his hat-trick two minutes late in another sensational finish. Cancelo's initial strike smacked the foot of the post, but Torres was waiting and showed superb reactions to volley the ball past Dubravka as the pendulum swung back in City's favour.
From then on, Man City showed off their Premier League-winning credentials and mostly kept Newcastle at bay, knocking the ball between themselves for the final 15 minutes of the game to seal another victory.
It was a sensational performance from Torres. As Man City look for Sergio Aguero's successor, the Spaniard has put himself at the forefront of the reckoning.
First - the stats. He had the highest number of shots (5) and all three that were on target ended up in the back of the net. What sensational finishes each of them were too. He showed superb skill, brilliant reactions and vital instincts that will serve him well in the Premier League.
Sky Sports' Andy Hinchcliffe said: "City have such an abundance of attacking riches that Torres at times maybe slightly under the radar. But he's showcased his attacking talents tonight - three great goals, great finishes. He came alive in the Newcastle penalty area and he deserves the award. He's been brilliant."
Newcastle boss Steve Bruce: "We gave it a right good go. We gave Man City a fright tonight but we weren't quite good enough.
"Although I can't remember the goalkeeper making save after save, just the sloppiness of a couple of goals is the disappointing thing of the whole evening for me.
"How often do you score three against this mob? Not very often, so the disappointing thing is we just got up and we were a bit naïve and our defending had to be better at times.
"It's just getting that balance right, we know we're a threat on the counter-attack and a threat for any team but we have to get that balance right defensively.
"We can't keep conceding the way we have done unfortunately because it's not often you can score three and fours in the Premier League, we have to defend better.
"We've now got to try to get a couple of wins if we can and finish off the season in the form we're in. We've got to stay at it and see where we can get to."
Man City boss Pep Guardiola: "We made mistakes because we are champions, because the players were distracted a little bit in the last days, this is normal. We knew it but the spirit from the first minute until the end was absolutely there.
"I'm really pleased and hopefully we can learn from our distractions. I knew it could happen but at the end we won and now the team are going to celebrate and we're going to prepare to face Brighton.
"I'm pretty sure we'll be more focused to prepare for the final of the Champions League."
He says straight away to the young guys and the old guys what he believes, because he has incredible experience around locker rooms and in big teams. He is an incredible person and we are delighted, not just me but all the players, that today he could play.
On Torres: "Not just this evening, of course this evening was important, but his first season in England and his number are exceptional. He came as a winger, but he has to think about a striker. When Sergio, Gabriel were out, he was there. He scored against Leeds and Crystal Palace. He didn't have many minutes, but when he played, he had a sense of goal.
"Yeah, he can be [a No 9]. We will use him, we used him and he was brilliant. His rhythm, especially defensively he has improved a lot. The game at Palace, he makes a turn [in his season] - so good. The movement he makes as a striker, for the [third] goal, it hits the bar and where it goes, he knew it.
"The smell, the strikers know, intuitively where it will arrive. He has this talent and the first goal is fantastic. Very pleased."
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- Manchester City have won their last 12 away league matches, the longest ever away winning run by a team in the top four tiers of English league football since the formation of the Football League in 1888.
- Tonight was a 23rd consecutive unbeaten away match in all competitions for Manchester City (W21 D2), the longest ever unbeaten away run by a side in the top four tiers of English football, overtaking Notts County's run of 22 in 2012.
- In his 146th Premier League appearance, Scott Carson became the first ever goalkeeper to make an appearance in the competition for six different clubs (Leeds, Liverpool, Charlton, Aston Villa, West Brom and Man City). The previous most was five clubs represented - Shay Given and David James.
- Manchester City had 82.3% possession in tonight's match, the second highest on record since the 2003-04 season, behind only Man City's 83% possession total against Swansea City in April 2018.
Newcastle are back in Premier League action on Wednesday, hosting Sheffield United, live on Sky Sports; kick-off 6pm. Man City play on Tuesday, travelling to Brighton; kick-off 7pm.
On the final day of the Premier League season, Newcastle travel to Fulham while Man City host Everton before being presented with the trophy.