MANCHESTER: Manchester City rode their luck to close the gap on Arsenal at the top of the Premier League to two points with a 2-0 win over Newcastle on Saturday.
Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva scored the goals for the defending champions, who were let off the hook at the Etihad by a series of glaring misses from the visitors.
Sean Longstaff, Callum Wilson and Joelinton were all guilty of not even forcing Ederson into a save as Newcastle suffered another blow to their hopes of a top-four finish.
City have shown flickers of their best form in recent weeks but relied on two moments of inspiration to claim a vital three points from a disjointed performance.
Foden struggled for form and fitness following the World Cup, but the England international has looked more like his old self over the past week.
The 22-year-old ghosted past four Newcastle challenges to score his fourth goal in three games thanks to the aid of a deflection off Sven Botman to beat Nick Pope on 15 minutes.
A first full season under Saudi ownership that promised so much is beginning to fade for Newcastle.
Eddie Howe's men missed out on the club's first major trophy for 54 years in losing the League Cup final to Manchester United last weekend.
A run of one win in eight league games since December 26 has also seen them fall four points behind Tottenham in the race for a place in next season's Champions League.
The Magpies were made to pay for a familiar lack of potency up front.
Longstaff should have struck back almost immediately, but the midfielder delayed a second too long to allow Nathan Ake to produce a brilliant last-ditch block.
Wilson's barren run explains Newcastle's return of just one goal in their last eight league games and he then failed to connect with Kieran Trippier's cross.
At the other end Erling Haaland also failed to score for the sixth time in eight games.
The Norwegian's best chance to extend his lead in the fight for the Premier League's Golden Boot came just before the break when he headed wide from Kevin De Bruyne's cross.
A triple change by Howe early in the second half nearly had the desired effect as Newcastle pinned City inside their own half.
One of the substitutes Joe Willock broke down the right and his low cross was just begging for the finishing touch by Joelinton, who instead missed his kick.
Moments later, another of the changes, Alexander Isak had a penalty appeal turned down as he was wiped out by Ederson after Ruben Dias blocked the Swede's first effort.
Pep Guardiola introduced Silva for De Bruyne in a bid to stem Newcastle's flow through the City midfield.
The Portuguese had an immediate impact with the goal that settled City's nerves.
Haaland laid the ball into Silva's path on the edge of the box and with virtually his first touch he fired low past Pope.
The second goal took the wind out of Newcastle's sails as City were able to see out the final quarter comfortably and could even have added to their lead when Pope saved low to his right from Foden. - AFP