The title of the Premier League has been decided and the contest is now all about gaining the top-four spot and completing the scheduled matches. At St James’ Park Manchester City, the already Champions of this season faced Newcastle United, and, it turned out to be an absolute thriller.

Pep Guardiola made a raft of changes to his starting lineup, with fringe players like Eric Garcia, Nathan Ake and Ferran Torres handed starts, while goalkeeper Scott Carson made his first Premier League appearance in 11 years.

Manchester City wasted no time in hogging possession, zipping passes between themselves and penning the players of Newcastle inside their own half. A resolute Newcastle backline was hard to breach.

When the concentration of Pep Guardiola’s champion boys started to waver they, self-destructively, permitted Allan Saint-Maximin to escape on the counterattack and pick out Joelinton whose shot was blocked by Kyle Walker and deflected behind for a corner.

Jonjo Shelvey’s whipped-in dead ball delivery was met by Emil Krafth who out-leaped Nathan Ake before directing a header beyond Carson.

Newcastle nearly scored again when Shelvey’s free-kick crashed back off the crossbar but, instead, City equalized as Joao Cancelo’s low drive took a capricious deflection off Jacob Murphy and whizzed past a wrong-footed Dubravka.

Torres connected well with Ilkay Gundogan’s free-kick with back to goal and he swiveled sharply and flicked an outrageous volley executed with the outside of his left foot beyond Dubravka.

City had taken the lead.

Ake sent Joelinton crashing but the referee ruled out a penalty due to a perceived offside on Saint-Maximin. A lengthy VAR review ultimately disagreed, judging Maximin to have been onside after all and Joelinton thumped the belatedly awarded 12-yard kick beyond Carson.

The game came to life on the hour mark when a bursting run forward by Joe Willock ended with Kyle Walker tripping him in the penalty box.

The Arsenal loanee stood up to take the penalty, which was saved by Carson, but Willock turned the rebound into the back of the net.

It was a case of deja vu for the hosts as Manchester City quickly turned things around and regained their lead in the space of four minutes through Ferran Torres.

He drew the visitors level after he was teed up by Gabriel Jesus in the 64th minute. Just two minutes later, he showed great reflexes and anticipation to react quickest after Cancelo’s shot rebounded off the post.

With Manchester City back ahead, they regained control of the game and slowed the tempo down with their measured possession football.

Two minutes later, Torres completed his hat-trick with a Mark-Hughes-like volley.

“An unbelievable game,” said Guardiola after the match.

“But just unfortunate fans couldn’t be in the stadium to see it.”

“Ferran’s so young and clinical,” said Guardiola.

“He was bought as a winger but we think he’s a striker. He’s a good player.” City certainly needed him against deep sitting, deceptively fast-breaking, and opponents.

“Newcastle have 10 players behind the ball,” added City’s manager.

“But they are so, so, fast on the counterattack.”

The victory means that Manchester City are the first side in the history of English football (at all levels) to win 12 consecutive league games away from home, and they did it in dominant style too.


The 83% possession they recorded against the Toon army is also the most any side has racked up in a Premier League game this season.

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