Man City 5-0 New­cas­tle

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By James Ducker

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

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