Manchester City started their Premier League title defence with a gritty 2-0 win over Newcastle at St James’ Park.
Newcastle pressed for an equaliser after the restart but, for all their promising positions, struggled to test Joe Hart as the match threatened to fizzle out.
But the arrival of substitute Ayoze Perez sparked the hosts into life, and they almost drew level when the youngster’s deflected effort flew narrowly wide before Moussa Sissoko blazed over with time running out.
With Newcastle committing men forward, City found space in injury time and wrapped up victory when Sergio Aguero reacted quickest to fire home after Tim Krul had saved his initial effort.
17’ – TRIBUTE. The stadium bursts into applause in memory of the two Newcastle fans who lost their lives on flight MH17.
38’ – GOAL! Newcastle 0-1 City. Dzeko latches onto a long ball in the inside-left channel before taking out two defenders with a sublime backheel. Silva marches onto the loose ball and slots home. The champions lead!
50’ – DOUBLE CHANCE! The corner skims all the way across to Gouffran. The Frenchman controls the ball with his chest, but it just won't drop in time. City suffocate the midfielder and successfully protect their goal. Moments later, Cabella slices over the bar.
58’ – HART GOES WANDERING! The City stopper wanders off his line to meet a free-kick from the right, but Dummett meets it first and is unfortunate to see his header shoot over.
85’ – INSTANT IMPACT! Substitute Ayoze latches onto the ball inside the area, cuts inside and has a crack... Deflected... Just wide. So close, but the home players are buoyant now.
90+1’ – CHANCE! Sissoko blazes over from 20 yards. Will they get a better chance?
90+2’ – GOAL! Newcastle 0-2 City. Aguero is one-on-one with Coloccini. He beats his man and crashes a shot at goal – Krul saves. But the Argentine is immediately on his feet and slots the rebound beyond the despairing lunge of the Newcastle stopper. Game over.
[MATCHCAST: FULL COMMENTARY AND STATS]
Man City have recorded their 400th all-time top-flight away win. Their first came with a 4-1 success at Bury in September 1899.
Stats by Infostrada
When will City click? It was an assured, if uninspiring, display from Manchester City – the sort that is the foundation for any title challenge. Given the wealth of talent at their disposal it’s a matter of when, not if, they hit top form. If City can continue to grind out results until then, they will be very difficult to dislodge at the league summit.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Edin Dzeko (Manchester City): Sparked the opener with a marvellous piece of invention and led the line intelligently alongside Stevan Jovetic.
MATCH IN A TWEET