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Manchester City 1-0 Newcastle United: Match Report & Player Ratings

It was the seventeenth consecutive league win in front of home support for City in what was their first home tie of the new campaign, with Eddie Howe’s Magpies giving a good account of themselves in the toughest away fixture in the English top flight.

Pre-Match Social Media Talking Points

Match Report

Champions and recent treble winners Manchester City made it two wins from two to open the 2023-24 Premier League season after a narrow 1-0 win against top-four contenders Newcastle United at the Etihad on a night where City persist without star midfielder Kevin De Bruyne.

It was the seventeenth consecutive league win in front of home support for City in what was their first home tie of the new campaign, with Eddie Howe’s Magpies giving a good account of themselves in the toughest away fixture in the English top flight.

As the match kicked-off in earnest, there were concerns in the first minute that the Magpies would be forced into an early change after Swiss defender Fabian Schär was left on the ground after picking up what first appeared to be a shoulder injury, which worst Jamal Lascelles to begin warming up, but the veteran center-back was able to continue and dodge what would have been a frustrating early substitute on a difficult night.

Newcastle were not afraid of the English hegemon despite being away from Tyneside and their long-standing poor record against City, with Howe wanting to establish an early high-press in an attempt to get the champions off firm footing early doors.

Guardiola’s men were expectantly dominant in possession, but Newcastle had succeeded in their task of making themselves hard to break down in the opening fifteen minutes as the absence of both Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva was evident, while the same control from the middle of the park through İlkay Gündoğan was arguably never replaced.

But despite the struggles on the night, City broke the deadlock in the 30th minute through Julián Álvarez with their first shot on target after Phil Foden got into space just inside the area before squaring to the Argentine forward at the top of the box before beat Nick Pope with sheer power to put the Champions up 1-0.

The second forty-five began in the same manner that it ended as City continued their dominance in possession, giving the Magpies little room to create anything going forward when on the ball, but Howe’s adjusted tactics had seen the club be more direct than in the first half as a way to counter the vaunted City press.

Harvey Barnes’ introduction in the 56th minute for Anthony Gordon, who was increasingly in trouble to see a second yellow, certainly suited that tactical change, though Barnes was booked almost immediately after taking down Kyle Walker.

A last-gasp tackle just minutes later by Schär from inside the last ten yards likely kept Haaland off the scoresheet after Foden did well to put the Norwegian into a footrace with the Newcastle central-defensive pair that he nearly won if not for the Swiss defender, but City kept probing for a second that seemed almost guaranteed to come.

Haaland once again had a chance to find the back of the net when Foden, again, found him in a good position to receive and have a crack at goal, but his shot was scuffed wide once more as the record-setting goalscorer was well off his usual level on the night at the Etihad, with another chance falling to him a minute later, which he struck more cleanly, but this time it forced Pope into a comfortable kick save.

Newcastle had a chance to finally break when Miguel Almirón found plenty of space to burst down the right flank before cutting it back to Bruno Guimarães, but his effort was horrifically scuffed and dribbled harmlessly wide of Ederson’s far post.

Howe’s men had grown into the match in the final twenty-odd minutes, however, with both Elliot Anderson and Sean Longstaff helping the club be much more direct further still while sustaining possession in the City half as Newcastle had begun to find a second wind of sorts, with Barnes and Almirón both seeing more of the ball in advanced positions as well.

Despite five minutes of added time, Álvarez’s strike would remain the difference maker on a night where Newcastle could hold their heads high after giving a good account of themselves and keeping the scoreline manageable while showing themselves as capable of not backing down in the face of the toughest opposition anywhere in Europe on the back of last season.

For City, the absence of De Bruyne showed just how reliant Haaland has become on the ability that the mercurial Belgian has when it comes to picking an expert ball to release him into dangerous areas, and although Foden was named man of the match, the same visceral connection does not expect between the two.

Still, Guardiola’s men dispatched a side that finished top four while keeping their dominant traits on full display, and overall, that should be enough for the iconic Spanish tactician.

Key Stats (Player)

Manchester City Player Ratings

Newcastle United Player Ratings

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Andrew Thompson

US-based Football writer. German football guru with a wealth of experience in youth development and analysis. Data aficionado. Happily championing the notion that Americans have a knowledgeable voice in the beautiful game.

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