Goals from Tevez, Silva, Kompany and Toure helped Roberto Mancini's team brush aside the injury-crippled north-east club with one of their most convincing displays of the season
First half goals from Carlos Tevez and David Silva were supplemented by a delicious back-heeled flick from Vincent Kompany on his long-awaited return to the team early in the second half. Yaya Toure capitalized by smashing in the fourth.
As the first semblance of spring loosened winter’s icy grip on March, City has the warm feeling of a comprehensive victory that lifts it to 62 points and five clear of third-placed Tottenham. At lunchtime, Manchester United had maintained their iron grip on the title race by winning at Sunderland to extend their league lead to a remarkable 18 points.
Mancini has long accepted that the main fight is for the minor places, but at least the Italian had the satisfaction of City narrowing the gap back to 15 with one of their more convincing displays of the season. By contrast, Newcastle is left looking uncomfortably over their shoulders as they risk getting sucked into the drop zone. Wigan’s victory over Norwich means Alan Pardew’s team is now only three points clear of 18th place.
Earlier, City welcomed skipper Kompany back into the team after two months and eight matches on the sidelines. He was partnered in central defense by Joleon Lescott as Mancini made five changes from the team that lost to Everton on 16 March, with Yaya Toure, Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri also returning to the starting X1.
Injury-crippled Newcastle, missing a host of regulars including Tim Krul, Hatem Ben Arfa, Mathieu Debuchy, Fabricio Colocinni and Cheick Tiote, made four changes, with Danny Simpson and Gabriel Obertan handed rare starts. Rookies Adam Campbell and Curtis Good, neither of whom have made a first-team start, were named on the substitute’s bench.
The champions nearly became the latest victims of a volleyed special from Papiss Cisse midway through the opening period. A floated Vurnon Anita cross was met with a stinging shot from a seemingly nonthreatening angle but Joe Hart’s left leg prevented the Senegalese striker putting his team ahead.
Moments later, Gareth Barry was unable to match Cisse’s composure in front of goal. The midfielder had the goal at his mercy after a rebound fell neatly into his path but, much to the joy of the Newcastle fans behind Rob Elliot’s goal, Barry blazed his finish wildly over the bar.
While the Englishman looked for a giant hole to swallow him up, City finally threw off the shackles. Gael Clichy had a shot saved well by Eliot, Dzeko headed just wide from a corner and Silva had a goal correctly ruled out for offside. Four minutes before the break, Newcastle’s resistance was over. Clichy’s teasing cross on the run presented Tevez with a golden opportunity to extend his scoring run and the Argentine duly bundled in his seventh goal in six matches.
On the cusp of halftime, a now rampant home side doubled their advantage. Silva was surrounded by a posse of black-and-white shirts as he collected Nasri’s pass in the box, but the Spaniard smartly shifted the ball to his left and arrowed his shot across the goal and beyond Eliot’s left hand.
The visitors demonstrated greater purpose after the break, with Yohan Cabaye coming close to giving the traveling Newcastle support something to really sing about.
However, the game was effectively made safe for City after 56 minutes when the visitors failed to clear a corner. Barry’s fizzed shot from the edge of the box was met with the most impudent and delicate of flicks from Kompany, who back-heeled it into the net on the volley.
Toure steamrollered past a retreating Newcastle defense to smash in the fourth from a tight angle, although the Ivorian benefited from a slight deflection from sub James Perch. Immediately afterwards, Kompany left the pitch to a standing ovation. The job had been done and the home fans could relax and enjoy a passing exhibition for the remaining minutes.