LONDON: Manchester City’s completion of the season double over Newcastle by 2-0 at St James’ Park maintained their status as league title contenders and also their ambition to break the 100-goal barrier.
Wherever manager Manuel Pellegrini has gone, he has taken goals with him. City have scored 59 in 20 games which included four against Newcastle on the day of the season and two more this time.
The Premier record for a season is the 103 set by Carlo Ancelotti’s Chelsea in 2009-10; after 21 games they had 52 goals to their credit.
Repeatedly Pellegrini has said: “The most important reason I came here was because City wanted to play football the way I wanted, not just attacking football but complete football. Everyone talks about the goals we score but it’s important we do not concede.”
City, back on top of the league at least until Arsenal play at Aston Villa, were fortunate on that score at Newcastle. Edin Dzeko gave them the lead with his fifth goal of the season but Cheik Tiote thought he had equalised with a thundering 25m drive just before half-time.
Referee Michael Jones overruled his linesman and disallowed the goal on the grounds that Yoann Goufran had been offside and interfering with play, standing close to keeper Joe Hart.
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew was furious, complaining to Jones at half-time loudly enough to be heard up by TV microphones saying: “The linesman was right, you got it wrong.”
The one negative point for City and Pellegrini was a suspected knee ligament injury to France midfielder Samir Nasri in the closing stages as Newcastle chased an equaliser.
They threw more and more men forward and were duly picked off by Alvaro Negredo on the counter-attack in the 90th minute. That was the Spaniard’s fifth goal in three games in nine days.
** Steven Gerrard marked his 650th appearance for fourth-placed Liverpool with a penalty in an entertaining 5-3 win over Stoke whose defence badly missed still-convalescing Robert Huth.
Luis Suarez struck twice to take his league top-scoring tally to 22.