Newcastle United 0-2 Manchester City: Yaya Toure strikes crucial double as Mancini's side close in on title
The Ivorian scored twice to settle the away side's nerves against Alan Pardew's team at the Sports Direct Arena and tighten his team's grip on the Premier League crown
By Oliver Platt
Two second-half goals from Yaya Toure has put Manchester City on the verge of their first league title in 44 years as Roberto Mancini's team secured a 2-0 victory over Newcastle United at the Sports Direct Arena.
Following a tense first half, the Ivorian was found in space, 25 yards out, by David Silva and curled his shot past the helpless Tim Krul after 70 minutes.
Then, with Newcastle pushing for an equaliser, Toure doubled the lead from close range following a swift counter-attacking move to settle matters.
Both managers elected to name unchanged sides following key victories during the week, but Alan Pardew did have a change of formation up his sleeve. Papiss Cisse was partnered by Demba Ba in attack as Newcastle reverted to a more orthodox 4-4-2 that left Jonas Gutierrez shifting out from the centre of midfield to the left flank.
Having established an effective defensive shield in the opening 10 minutes, City slowly began to grow into the game in an attacking sense. The fluid movement of their front four resulted in Samir Nasri threading a pass through to Silva, whose left-footed shot across goal was palmed away by Krul.
Silva then turned creator for Sergio Aguero, who forced another save out of the opposition goalkeeper.
It took almost 30 minutes for Newcastle to make an impact of the game. Gael Clichy was dispossessed by Ben Arfa, who raced past Joleon Lescott before picking out Ba, but the Senegalese striker could only blaze his shot just over the crossbar from 25 yards.
The Magpies went closer minutes later. Ben Arfa forcing an excellent save from Joe Hart on the volley after Ba's blocked effort had ricocheted into his path.
The two chances undoubtedly lifted the home supporters and Newcastle began to show more energy and movement as an attacking force as determined blocks from Fabricio Coloccini and Davide Santon in defence, the latter on the goal line, prevented Barry from opening the scoring, for the away side, with two shots after a Silva cut-back.
The second half started much like the first, with Cisse and Ba frustratingly isolated and losing their battle against Lescott and Vincent Kompany.
City, despite being on the front foot, were beginning to show signs of anxiety themselves, though, as the first goal continued to elude them.
Toure pushed up into a more attacking role after Nigel de Jong replaced Nasri but it was the Dutch substitute's misplaced touch that handed Newcastle the first half-chance of the second period.
Gutierrez escaped down the left and, with the help of Ba, worked the ball across the edge of the penalty area to Ben Arfa, who turned Clichy again but thumped his shot over the bar from a tight angle.
That is not to say, however, that Mancini's tactical change did not work. With 20 minutes to play and Edin Dzeko thrown into the fray in search of a goal, the recent introduction of De Jong allowed Toure to move further forward and work a neat one-two with Aguero before curling a perfectly placed shot into the bottom corner of Krul's goal from 20 yards.
The goal forced Newcastle to open the game up in search of an equaliser and City came close to putting the game to bed less than five minutes later.
Dzeko had already blasted wide before Silva picked out Aguero with an exquisitely chipped through ball only for the Argentine to shoot inches wide with just Krul to beat.
Cisse headed just wide from substitute Shola Ameobi's cross but Toure went even closer up the other end with a header of his own, flicking a cross just wide of Krul's right post.
Toure had an even better chance to close the game out after 83 minutes. Aguero's pass set the Ivorian free but, as he was rounding Krul, the midfielder slipped at the crucial moment.
Micah Richards, who came on to strengthen the away side’s rear guard, had to make a brilliant block to deny Ameobi before City raced up the field from the resulting corner to seal three points.
Aguero rushed down the right-hand side before switching the ball across to Clichy and the Frenchman was able to pick out Toure in the box, who made no mistake from eight yards out.
Hart had to deny Ba and Ameobi before referee Howard Webb called and end to proceedings to give City a further three points with just one game of the season left to play.
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