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Newcastle 0-2 Manchester City
by Harry de Cosemo
at St James’ Park
NEWCASTLE UNITED’S first FA Cup quarter-final appearance since 2006 should have been accompanied by the roar of 52,000 fans, but instead they succumbed to a 2-0 defeat against Manchester City at an empty and emotionless St James’s Park.
Kevin De Bruyne’s penalty and a Raheem Sterling strike either side of half time did the damage and set up City’s semi-final date with Arsenal next month. Newcastle should have equalised through substitute Dwight Gayle moments before the second goal, but in truth their ultra-cautious approach proved costly.
Steve Bruce admitted his side were “too passive” in the first half, while suggesting that a full house could have made it a different story.
“Everyone has a plan when they play Manchester City,” he said.
“We were too passive in the first half. Yes, you want to set a defensive organisation, but you’ve got to do more with the ball.
“It’s bad enough playing Man City with 52,000 mad Geordies shouting and giving their encouragement. There’s no question we wanted that. When you’re playing these teams, you need your crowd to give you a lift. Supporters or no supporters, we were too passive.”
Newcastle reverted to playing with five defenders to counter the obvious threat from City. The game quickly settled into a pattern, with the Magpies registering just 15 per cent possession within the first 17 minutes.
Riyad Mahrez was heavily involved in the early stages, curling an effort wide after creating space for himself, while David Silva also failed to divert a cross past Karl Darlow, seeing the ball bounce the wrong side of the post.
Approaching the first-half drinks break, Sterling drew two saves from Darlow, firstly after the ball fell to him at an angle and then with a fierce strike from the edge of the box.
The onslaught continued when play resumed and Newcastle’s concentration was broken when City were awarded a penalty eight minutes before half time. Fabian Schar pushed Gabriel Jesus in the area and De Bruyne, somewhat anticlimactically, sent Darlow the wrong way to open the scoring.
Allan Saint-Maximin grew into second half after Bruce tweaked the system and began to give Kyle Walker a few problems down City’s right. He crossed looking for Andy Carroll and, although he couldn’t find him, there were at least signs of improvement from the home side.
After a double change for each side, Dwight Gayle was introduced alongside Joelinton, and he missed a glorious opportunity to equalise. Saint-Maximin laid the ball across the six-yard box, but somehow he blasted over with the goal gaping.
Two minutes later, Newcastle’s misery was compounded. Aymeric Laporte played a lovely ball out to one of City’s changes, Phil Foden, who found Sterling on the left. The England winger cut inside and gave Darlow no chance with the finish.
City boss Pep Guardiola was pleased to get the victory at a place where they have suffered in the past.
“At 1-0, anything can happen, but we stayed focused all game,” Guardiola said.
“It was a good performance. We have suffered against Newcastle in this stadium, but we did more than the opponent and, when you do more, you are closer to winning the game than them.”
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