Man City 5-0 Newcastle
Manchester City swept Newcastle aside with goals from Gabriel Jesus, Riyad Mahrez, Federico Fernandez (own goal), David Silva (below, centre) and Raheem Sterling.
The game was in the second minute of stoppage time and had long been won, but there was David Silva, his instincts still razor sharp, his sense of anticipation undimmed, his appetite undiminished, refusing to just wind down the clock.
Nabil Bentaleb attempted a pass but Manchester City’s midfield magician had read it and suddenly, once more, Newcastle United found themselves at the mercy of the man the locals call Merlin.
Silva glided forward, waited for the defender to advance and then slipped the ball to Raheem Sterling to claim City’s fifth goal, and 17th in four home matches since the Premier League resumed. It might not even have been the highlight of his night – there was a wonderful freekick for City’s fourth goal and a lovely run and pass to tee up Gabriel Jesus for the first – but, as a snapshot of the Spaniard’s talent and mindset, it was telling.
Let us be clear, a depleted Newcastle were abysmal and did not put up much in the way of resistance. But it is performances such as these that make you wonder if Silva is bowing out too soon. You certainly had to remind yourself that he is 34 and, weeks from now, will bring down the curtain on a dazzling decade at City. Will there be a grandstand finish in the Champions League, the one trophy that still eludes him? Time will tell.
“He is one of the legends,” Pep Guardiola, the City manager, purred. “Maybe the best [operating] in small spaces, moving between lines. I’ve never seen someone like him. He came back from lockdown in incredible form and if he decides to play on, he can play anywhere, no doubt.”
Guardiola stopped just short of declaring that City should build a statue in Silva’s honour, but it is hard to believe he will not be immortalised in some fashion. By the end of this utterly one-sided game, the statistics said City had completed 93.7 per cent of their passes – a Premier League record – but, to be honest, it was hard to remember them misplacing that many.
Without the injured pairing of Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron, and with the anonymous Jonjo Shelvey spending most of the time feeling sorry for himself, Newcastle had no attacking outlet. Andy
Carroll and Jamaal Lascelles were also missing and, on this evidence, the stand-ins will be out of the team the moment others become fit. “I don’t know what got into us. We were nowhere near it,” Steve Bruce, the Newcastle manager, said.
Silva, Foden and Kevin De Bruyne had clearly identified Newcastle’s right side as ripe for exploitation and, by the time the first drinks break came around, the visiting team were already two goals down, DeAndre Yedlin, Emil Krafth and
Valentino Lazaro dazed and confused and Bruce doubtless in need of a stiff drink, not water.
Lazaro was caught first by Foden’s pass and a run in behind by Silva to cross for Gabriel Jesus to steer a sumptuous finish into the corner and then, when the Newcastle midfielder lost possession on the touchline, Foden worked the ball to De Bruyne, who pulled back to Riyad Mahrez to score.
It was Mahrez’s 10th league goal of the campaign and means City are the first team to have five different players reach double figures in a single English top-flight season since Everton in 1984/85.
The assist was De Bruyne’s 18th of the campaign and his frustration at
failing to equal Thierry Henry’s Premier League record of 20 in the second half was very evident.
City were already leading 3-0 by then after Matt Ritchie had intercepted Jesus and watched as the ball inadvertently deflected off Federico Fernandez and in.
Silva – who was operating on a level Newcastle could not compute – swept home the fourth with a stylish free-kick and, on another day, might have finished with a hattrick. De Bruyne twice set him up, but Martin Dubravka denied him with a fine save and then Silva blazed over with another chance.
Still, it was not a bad night’s work.
Class apart: David Silva (right) fires home City’s fourth goal to bury Newcastle