Vincent Kompany Returns in Style as Manchester City Thrash Newcastle

This was a performance drawn from memories this Manchester City side had nearly lost.

As the season unfolded and their title defence gradually felt the creep of self-doubt, City's big guns struggled to recall how they had steamrollered teams on the road to a first championship in 44 years.

Here, the A-listers finally remembered. Yaya Touré, David Silva, Carlos Tevez, Vincent Kompany and even the recalled Samir Nasri stepped forward to take responsibility and give Newcastle United a lesson.

Touré's role in City's fourth was the best illustration of the day's turn of events. Alan Pardew will be furious at how his defence stood off the Ivorian. Yet there are few, if any, midfielders in the Premier League who can surge at a defence with the ball as he did to take him into space along the right. Once there he smashed home, via a deflection from James Perch.

A sombreness might have descended on City's players when they saw that Manchester United had again done the business at Sunderland with a 1-0 win. This pushed them to 18 points behind the leaders as they started against Newcastle.

If City did feel sorry for themselves the mood was quickly shaken off. Nasri, chosen instead of James Milner for a first league start since the 3-1 surrender at Southampton on 9 February, gave a taste of what City have missed this season after 24 minutes. A flash of trickery left Jonas Gutiérrez and Yoan Gouffran trailing and after the Frenchman drove along the right his low pass pinballed off Rob Elliot, the visiting goalkeeper, and Gareth Barry was presented with an open goal. But the midfielder blasted over.

Newcastle, who played with Papiss Cissé as the lone striker, came closest to scoring during the opening half when he smashed a sweeping Vurnon Anita ball at Joe Hart, who saved with a leg.

After Elliot beat a fierce Gaël Clichy shot away and Silva did manage to beat the keeper but was adjudged offside, Tevez final broke the deadlock. From the left, Clichy skimmed the ball over the turf and the Argentinian got ahead of Gutiérrez for the finish.

City's second came courtesy of a sublime Nasri moment. With a mesmerising drag-back that seemed to pause play for a telling moment he made a mug of Gabriel Obertan before moving into the area and passing to Silva, who belted the ball home.

An easy assumption was that the sight of United disappearing over the horizon had finally relaxed Mancini's squad. The sight of Edin Dzeko bulldozing into a challenge to win a header in Didier Drogba-style as the second half started certainly strengthened the sense that those in blue were playing as they should have done since August.

After a flurry of Newcastle chances that included Yohan Cabaye aiming an effort too high, Nasri combined with Silva, the pair whirling the ball down the right in a further glimpse of how teams might have been torn apart this season.

Having been critical of his captain for playing for Belgium on Tuesday after not being available since late January due to a calf injury, Roberto Mancini watched Vincent Kompany flick home Barry's mishit shot for City's third.

When Kompany was taken off there was no eye-contact between the pair, and Silva appeared to limp off near the end. This, though, was a day for the larger concern of what might have been in City's quest to retain the title.

Powered by article was written by Jamie Jackson at Etihad Stadium, for The Observer on Saturday 30th March 2013 17.08 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


image: © pigpilot

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