By Robert Morris
Adam Johnson scored his second goal in four days, sending City into second place in the Premiership ahead of their rivals Manchester United.
Roberto Mancini reverted back to his preferred 4-5-1 formation after a 1-1 draw with Juventus in mid-week.
It was Newcastle who started the brightest at the City of Manchester Stadium but they suffered a major setback within the first few minutes of the game when talented winger Hatem Ben Arfa (photo) went down injured following a challenge from Nigel de Jong. The young Frenchman has reportedly suffered from a double break to his left leg.
City took the lead in 18th minute when Carlos Tevez was judged to have been fouled under a challenge by defender Mike Williamson in the box. In what was a debatable decision, the referee pointed to the spot and Tevez comfortably smashed home the penalty. Newcastle quickly responded in anger. As a cross from Jonas Gutierrez was unsuccessfully cleared by Vincent Kompany, the ball fell back to the Argentine and Gutierrez confidently slammed the ball past Joe Hart in the City goal. The half-time whistle blew with the scores level. An upset was on the cards.
City fans didn’t have to wait long until Roberto Mancini made a substitution by introducing Emmanuel Adebayor for Yaya Toure. The out-of-form Togolese striker is still looking for his first goal of the season. Gareth Barry was also replaced by Adam Johnson and in the 72nd minute it was the England winger who changed the game. Cutting in from the wing, Johnson ran at the Newcastle defence. As his dribbling skills turned the full-back and centre-half inside out, the England international released a powerful left foot shot that found the bottom corner of the goal; a finish which ultimately turned out to be the winner.
Late in the game the Magpies had a penalty appeal rejected when Shola Ameobi appeared to have been clipped down in the area by Joleon Lescott. There was a sigh of relief as the referee waved play on, despite a clear foul.
Although the Blues were relatively unconvincing yet again they have managed a third straight win, which sends them up above Manchester United and into second place in the Premiership table.
There is an old cliché in football that says, ‘the sign of true champions is a team that can win games despite playing poorly’; a notion that very much applies to Manchester City at this moment in time.