Manchester City turned in the heat on Newcastle United as the Citizens netted five goals at the Etihad Stadium in Sunday’s Premier League game.
Two goals from Raheem Sterling, and others from Aymeric Laporte, Rodri and Phil Foden also ensured there was no hangover from the traumatic midweek Champions League exit to Real Madrid.
With Liverpool’s draw against Tottenham opening up the possibility of Guardiola’s side moving three points clear at the top of the Premier League, the pressure was on.
But City coped with it admirably, racing into a two-goal lead by the interval although they enjoyed a large slice of fortune when Newcastle missed the best early chance of the game.
Allan Saint-Maximin floated over a perfect cross after eight minutes which target man Chris Wood met with a weak effort that bounced harmless to Ederson when the City keeper would have expected to see his net bulging.
That always threatened to prove a costly error by the New Zealand international, with Laporte and Joao Cancelo already having wasted good chances with wild, off-target efforts from good positions.
But, on 19 minutes, Ilkay Gündoğan sent over a cross which was met by Cancelo and headed on for Sterling to nod in his first league goal since mid-February from close range.
It looked a long way back for Eddie Howe’s side although Wood scrambled the ball into the City goal five minutes later only for his effort to be ruled out for offside against Bruno Guimaraes.
And a tough task for Newcastle became even tougher seven minutes before the interval when Laporte doubled the lead.
Newcastle keeper Martin Dubravka fumbled a Gundogan volley from the edge of the area and, after Ruben Dias’ effort was blocked, Laporte forced the rebound over the line.
City had started the day a goal behind Liverpool in the goal difference column and this was looking like the perfect opportunity to improve that statistic.
It took only 15 minutes of the second half for De Bruyne to set up a third – thus edging City two clear of their rivals.
The Belgian’s delivery from a left-wing corner was perfectly judged and met on the corner of the six-yard box by Rodri who headed firmly home.
Oleksandr Zinchenko almost added a fourth seven minutes later when his powerful shot was tipped over acrobatically by Dubravka and Newcastle’s hopes of a late consolation were denied when Ederson blocked Callum Wilson as he raced through on goal.
With goal difference still of potential importance in the title race, City were buoyed when substitute Foden diverted a Zinchenko shot past the stranded Dubravka in the 90th minute.
And in time added on Sterling scored his second, and City’s fifth, when Jack Grealish found him unmarked six yards from goal.
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