1-0 (Wright-Phillips 16), 2-0 (Bellamy 76)
Newcastle United 1
2-1 (Carroll 80)
- Match reports
- 28 January 2009 22:00
- Posted by Tim Oscroft
There were two debutantes tonight as Nigel de Jong and Craig Bellamy made it numbers 1091 and 1092 for City, replacing Dunne and Sturridge respectively. Robinho started, and for the visitors there was no Shay Given, but Joey Barton made his first appearance since leaving City in summer 2007.
Vincent Kompany wore the captain's armband for City.
De Jong & Bellamy received big ovations as their names were read out, although the latter’s was mixed with boos from the Newcastle end. City responded in kind to Joey Barton
The game’s first half-chance came after four minutes, Robinho’s cute chip from the left finding SWP, but under pressure from Coloccini he headed it straight at Harper. We were swift to get at the Newcastle defence, and another quick break on nine minutes ended with Harper taking Ireland’s curled effort with ease.
Bassong’s foul on Robinho a minute later allowed the Brazilian to chance his arm from the resulting free kick on the edge of the area, but his right-footed attempt did not have enough bend on it and went harmlessly wide of Harper’s right post.
Pablo Zabaleta was again excelling in his midfield role, familiar to him from his Under 21 days at international level, and a wonderful pass after 16 minutes put enough pressure on Newcastle that they could only find touch – and from the thro in we took the lead! Bridge crossed to Robinho, whose pass found the defence flat-footed and allowed Shaun Wright-Phillips to sneak in and drill the ball home between Harper’s legs.
Two minutes later Michael Owen, clearly struggling after an early knock, was forced to come off, receiving a generous hand from City’s fans in the Colin Bell Stand.
Craig Bellamy had his first chance to shine on 29 minutes when charging down a Taylor clearance and breaking into the box, but his cross back towards Robinho was cut out and cleared.
The visitors were struggling to make an impression, with the testing cross from Duff towards Gutierrez that Hart cut out being their biggest threat for a while. At the other end Bellamy appealed for a penalty after going to the floor under pressure from Enrique, referee Jones waved away his claims.
Joey Barton’s shot from range did not trouble Hart on 41 minutes, but just afterwards he was down at the other end, doing just enough to put off Zabaleta and forcing the Argentinean to shoot wide. The City number 5 had been forced away from goal, but could have found Bellamy or Robinho in better positions.
The visitors improved on their first half showing after the break, applying more pressure than the Blues, for whom the final was lacking. Taylor went down in the City box while being challenged by Richard on 58s, but referee Jones ignored the penalty appeals. We broke to the other end, and Ireland tried a midair back-heel that went over the bar.
Joey Barton left the fray just after the hour with an injury, and a few minutes later it looked like SWP would be following after taking a heavy blow from Gutierrez. The Newcastle substitute saw yellow, and City’s talisman was back on after receiving treatment on the sidelines.
Duff went close to equalising on 68 minutes, flipping the ball past Hart p0nly to see Wayne Bridge clear it off the line. Bellamy was claiming a penalty on 70 minutes after tussling with Bassong, and SWP also looked to referee Jones a minute later – but both were waved away to the fury of City’s players, fans and bench.
But after what had been at times a shaky second half, City doubled the lead with 13 minutes left. Zabaleta moved down the right and fed Craig Bellamy, who made space for himself by spinning round and then shooting low with his left past a static Harper.
All seemed well – but Newcastle hit back three minutes later. Bridge was dispossessed by Edgar on the edge of the box and his cross found Andy Carroll, who could not miss from a yard out to set up a nervy last 10 minutes or so.
SWP needed more treatment with three minutes left, but hobbled back on briefly before coming off for Caicedo. Both benches looked agitated as five additional minutes were flashed up, but just after SWP’s exit Robinho broke away to set up Caicedo. Sadly the Ecuadorian striker could not take the chance, electing to back-heel with no-one in support. Bellamy capped a good debut by earning plaudits for tracking back into the right back position, then winning a corner that ate up some valuable time at the other end.
That was the last meaningful action of a game that City looked to have in the bag before a nervous finale. But, it was three more points and the unbeaten run in the league stretched to four games with City now looking at the top half of the Barclays Premier League table.