Newcastle United 0
0-1 (Elano 38), 0-2 (Fernandes 76)
- Match reports
- Wed 02 Jan 2008, 12:00AM
- Posted by Leon Collins
City's starting eleven remained the same from Sunday, with Kelvin Etuhu replacing Geovanni on the bench. For the hosts, Michael Owen was on the bench.
It was a bitingly cold night on Tyneside, but that had not put off over 50,000 fans, including the vociferous City contingent, housed as ever at St James’ high up in the corner to the left of the main stand.
A minute’s applause was held in the memory of Phil O’Donnell, who had tragically collapsed and died while playing for Motherwell on Saturday.
Newcastle’s first corner, after five minutes, saw Joe Hart in action, blocking Beye’s header before getting in the way of the same player's shot from the rebound.
City spurned a great opportunity on 19 minutes when Cacapa gave the ball away to Vassell. He quickly found Ireland in the box, but the midfielder dallied and his pass towards Elano was cut out. The hosts went straight down to the other end, with Martins forcing Hart to make a good save.
City’s Brazilian playmaker volleyed wide from an angle on 22, and then Martins shot wide, but Richard Dunne had forced him to turn away from target at the crucial time.
The home fans were claiming a penalty just afterwards when Martins went down in the area – but quite rightly the referee had seen that it was due to a superbly timed challenge by City’s skipper.
The hosts had their tails up, and N’Zogbia went on a great run into the box that ended with him pumping a shot straight at Joe Hart.
Martin Petrov forced Shay Given into action on the half hour, his left-footed shot being tipped around the post by the Irish international.
And with seven minutes of the half left, City took the lead thanks to an intricate little move. Elano fed Ireland, who laid it on to Vassell. He returned the ball to Elano, who curled it first time around Given’s outstretched right hand. It was the Brazilian’s first goal since the penalty at the Reebok Stadium on Hallowe’en.
The goal scorer was in trouble just afterwards, seeing yellow for a poor challenge on Faye, but not as bad as the Newcastle player made out as he writhed on the floor.
Michael Owen replaced Martins at the break, and it was almost the dream start as he forced Hart into a save from close range just seconds in.
City soaked up minutes of pressure, hitting back with frequent counterattacks. Owen was at the heart of the home side’s play, but to the dismay of the home fans their side could not threaten Joe Hart.
Kelvin Etuhu replaced Elano with 20 minutes left, the little playmaker receiving a huge ovation from City’s fans..
But it was another substitution that saw City double the lead with 14 minutes left. Gelson Fernandes had just replaced Ireland when Etuhu did well to hold the ball up in the area with his back to goal. He rolled into the Swiss international’s path, and he placed it beyond Given first time with his left foot from the edge of the area. It was his first touch and he looked as though he could barely believe what had happened.
Joe Hart made a brilliant save a couple of minutes later, flying up to his right to tip Butt’s shot from outside the box over the bar. Vassell and Cacapa clashed heads and stayed down for a couple of minutes, but both players recovered to continue.
As the clock wound down the stadium began to empty as the home fans made their feelings known, a fact not lost on City’s fans as they sang themselves hoarse.
The Blues played out time comfortably and after four minutes of stoppage time they had their first away league win since August and three invaluable points that saw them go back into fourth place in the table..
mcfc.co.uk man of the match: Dietmar Hamann - quietly influential and had the better of younger opponents in Newcastle's midfield.