If there was anything missing from this exciting start to a new Premier League season, it was a pinch of uncertainty as to who will come out on top. While those seen as their title rivals have slipped around them, up until this visit to St James’ Park, Manchester City had gotten off to a predictably commanding start, perfectly set for a second consecutive title defense. But in another notable game, one of several we’ve already seen after just three weeks into this new season, they drew 3-3, losing their first points of the season and even looking vulnerable at times.
Pep Guardiola looked frustrated on the touchline but when all is said and done it can be looked back on as a respectable point away against a rising force in May.
After all, it could have been worse. Newcastle United’s steady improvement under Eddie Howe’s leadership looked like they were on course for a resounding victory as Kieran Trippier’s free-kick added to goals from Miguel Almiron and Callum Wilson to put a two-goal lead early in the second half . But a two-minute salvo, one from Erling Haaland and one from Bernardo Silva, saved the champions from defeat.
This has become known as the Premier League’s sportswashing derby between two rival petrostates who have more in common than what divides them in the debate over modern football’s intertwining with issues of geopolitics. Still, these are two clubs on very different paths to possible world domination. Newcastle’s spending this summer has been measured relatively by new money standards, partly as a result of financial fair play regulations that were not in place when City’s rise to fame began.
Given that and Abu Dhabi’s more than a decade lead at Manchester, there’s still a huge discrepancy between the two teams on paper. Take left-backs for example. City’s is redefining its role and is considered one of the best in Europe. Newcastle is 6ft 6in tall and is in the lap of a playing career that has taken spells at Darlington, Yeovil and Wigan. And if that talent gap was evident from the team sheet, it initially looked like it would show on the pitch as the champions sped up the sixth-minute lead.
Bernardo, who is now expected to spend at least another year at Manchester and make his first league start of the season from the right wing, took a couple of Newcastle players for a walk this side of the pitch before retiring to acres of space his natural left foot. His cross met the ghostly run of City’s newly appointed club captain Ilkay Gundogan, who deflected the ball with one touch and successfully fooled Nick Pope with a narrow finish for his second goal in as many games.
City won both of last season’s meetings against Newcastle after taking over by a aggregate score of 9-0 and at this early stage the kind of runaway Guardiola’s side specialize in seemed possible.
Still, Newcastle have made great strides since falling fourth behind the champions last December, while their five-goal defeat at the Etihad in May was an anomaly in their otherwise impressive end to the season. At 1-0, a glaring miss from Almiron and the exuberant Allan Saint-Maximin forcing Ederson to save were warning shots City ignored.
Especially running directly with the ball from Saint-Maximin caused problems. Both Kyle Walker and Rodri were sucked in by it on the left wing, allowing Saint-Maximin to look inside again and deliver a low cross into the six-yard box. Almiron somehow bundled the ball over the line while throwing his body at it. It was difficult to say which part of his anatomy received the finishing touches. Whatever it was – maybe a thigh – it was on the side, a VAR check confirmed after the flag was initially raised.
Newcastle sensed they had City on the ropes and pressed on. Almiron might have scored a second hit into an open net after uncovering Ederson’s typically adventurous positioning and going around him, but the angle narrowed and his attempt was blocked.
However, the lead came minutes later and through a more brilliant run from Saint-Maximin, who assisted John Stones until there was room for a pass to Wilson. A move in substitute Ruben Dias – coming on early for the injured Nathan Ake – left the Newcastle striker a direct finish to Ederson.
City deserve to be at the back. Guardiola’s side had not matched the intensity of Newcastle since taking the lead, while their usual defensive solidity through possession had deserted them. Haaland’s first major influence on proceedings was hitting the post early in the second half but Newcastle would score again before the champions made any reply. When Trippier bowed a free-kick in front of the Gallowgate for the third time, St James’ Park was poised to witness a famous victory.
But City inevitably responded as they normally do, in relentless waves of attacks that usually crush even the toughest resistance.
Newcastle lasted just six minutes from Trippier’s free-kick, while Haaland smashed a close-range volley into the far post after Rodri’s knockdown on a cross. City had hammered this one in but the equalizer was brushed through Newcastle’s defense by De Bruyne. A great pass broke three black and white pressure lines to find Bernardo unmarked in the box to get past the oncoming Pope.
That would be the end of the rating, if not the drama. Trippier saw a brief red for a vigorous challenge to De Bruyne that at first sight bordered on hyperbole. Referee Jarred Gillett thought it worthy of an immediate dismissal but reversed his decision after checking the pitchside monitor. On the reruns, it was more cynical than dangerous.
Trippier was pardoned and given the way City set up camp in the Newcastle half in the closing stages, his presence was welcome. Through determined defending and particularly Pope’s vigilant goalkeeping, Newcastle captured a point they will treasure far more than the champions.
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/newcastle-man-city-result-premier-league-2022-b2149618.html Newcastle vs Man City Result: Premier League Score, Goals, Report