Two goals from the penalty spot from Mario Balotelli and Sergio Aguero bookended Micah Richards’ first-half strike helping City to their 11th win of the campaign which has temporarily put them eight points clear of Manchester United who play Swansea City later today.
A record attendance of more than 47,000 at Etihad Stadium saw City take their tally to 42 goals this season from 12 games – the best in the top flight for 48 years – and they have scored two goals a game for 14 games which is the best since 1958/59 and the sixth game in a row of scoring three or more.
The first goal came in the 41st minute when the ball fell to Yaya Toure whose attempt struck the outstretched arm of Ryan Taylor prompting referee Chris Foy to point to the spot. Up stepped Mario Balotelli who completely outfoxed Tim Krul with a stop-start approach before passing into the bottom right corner to give City the lead with his sixth league goal of the season.
Three minutes later, the league leaders were two ahead when Sergio Aguero slid an enticing ball into the path of Micah Richards who had some luck when the ball bobbled back off Taylor allowing him to stab home with his left foot for his first league goal in almost a year.
Just under 20 minutes from time, City made it 3-0 when Hatem Ben Arfa quite clumsily brought down Richards on the right side of the area and with Balotelli off, there was a bit of a tussle for the penalty honours. Aguero was the man and sent Krul the wrong way with ease to help himself to his tenth for the season.
Two minutes from time, Newcastle got a consolation goal when Demba Ba’s toe-poked attempt was kept out by Hart but substitute Dan Gosling followed up with a simple tap-in to make it 3-1 but the damage had certainly been done.
In the first half, Aguero went over the crossbar with a dangerous strike from just outside the area before Krul produced a top-shelf save when Balotelli rose to meet James Milner’s cross. Down the other end, the Magpies had their own chances with Joe Hart coming up with a quality save of his own to deny Demba Ba before the Senegal striker missed a header from Yohan Cabaye’s corner when a solid touch on the ball may have been enough.
Just before the hour-mark, Steven Taylor was on hand to clear off the line when Aguero’s attempted flick back to an advancing Balotelli was half saved by Krul moments before Hatem Ben Arfa was desperately unlucky as he skipped past two City defenders before hitting the upright.
Aguero caused all kinds of bother for the Newcastle defence when he cut back behind Steven Taylor and in front of Fabricio Coloccini but Krul was able to smother the ball before there was too much danger just before he had the ball in the back of the net in the 65th minute but it was disallow
Minutes later Hart produced another top save to deny Danny Guthrie from a tight angle but City were too good in the end despite conceding a late goal.
TRIBAL ASKS: Do Man City have the bottle to maintain their position at the top of the table?
Yellow cards: MANC - nil
NEW - nil