City are within tantalising reach of the Premier League title after Yaya Toure proved to be the man for the big occasion once again.
Goals from the Ivorian powerhouse gave City memorable wins in the FA Cup at the semi final and final last year, and this time around he struck twice to give City a deserved victory over a battling Newcastle United.
The introduction of Nigel de Jong after an hour allowed Toure a touch more freedom, an outstanding use of ‘Plan B’ from Roberto Mancini after it had looked like it might turn into a frustrating day on Tyneside.
The result meant that barring an unlikely scoreline at Old Trafford later in the day a win over QPR next Sunday would ensure City’s first title triumph since 1968, itself sealed by victory at what was then called St James’ Park.
City’s starting eleven was the same for the third consecutive match, Pablo Zabaleta keeping Micah Richards confined to the bench. The only change Roberto Mancini did make was to have Adam Johnson as one his replacements rather than Mario Balotelli.
With so much at stake for both sides it was no surprise that the opening spell was a cagey one. The hosts had the early ascendency with plenty of possession but little to trouble Joe Hart with, while opposite number Tm Krul was called into action to make comfortable blocks to deny Nasri and Silva.
The Blues asserted themselves and as the intensity increased Howard Webb was kept busy, making five bookings within the space of 12 minutes.
City wasted several set-piece opportunities before having to thank their goalkeeper for saving them at a rare Newcastle attack. It came about after Zabaleta had given the ball away, and after a vital block from Clichy at the first shot, Hart was down to his left to block Ben Arfa’s follow-up.
That spurred City on, but they went into the break level due to do-or-die defending from Coloccini and Santon, who both threw themselves in the way of consecutive efforts from Gareth Barry.
Half time seemed to disrupt City’s momentum, as after the resumption they could not put Krul under pressure despite seeing plenty of the ball.
As on previous occasions, Roberto Mancini acted swiftly to change tactics, swapping Nasri for de Jong and giving Yaya Toure licence to rampage further forward.
The move paid off with 20 minutes to go when the man who has the happy knack of scoring key goals did it again. It was Yaya Toure who started and ended the move, feeding Aguero then latching on to the return, but he elected for placement over power and curled the ball just enough to see it go past Krul’s left hand and into the net.
Aguero had the chance to atone for a quiet afternoon when presented with a golden chance within minutes, but he wasted the chance to seal the deal.
Another substitution paid off for City when Micah Richards made a crucial block to deny Shola Ameobi, and it proved even more important when Yaya Toure popped up again with seconds of normal time to go.
City swept out of defence from a corner, stretching Newcastle across the field until Clichy fed the Ivorian, who took his time before flicking the ball home from inside the box.
The result was beyond any doubt, even though there was time for Joe Hart to make a fine save to ensure another clean sheet.
Written off in some quarters after the defeat at Arsenal, the Blues have bounced back in style and are now so close to glory.