Sunday, 27 December 2020 10:05

Staff Reporter.

Photo Credit: Getty Images.

Manchester City breezed to a 2-0 home win over Newcastle United thanks to goals in each half from Ilkay Gundogan and Ferran Torres, a result that lifted them to fifth in the Premier League on Saturday.

The triumph was City's 12th in a row in this particular fixture.

And the margin of victory could have been far more as Newcastle keeper Karl Darlow produced two excellent first-half saves to deny Kevin de Bruyne, then an even better one to repel a close range shot from substitute Sergio Aguero near the end.

In addition, John Stones and Raheem Sterling both wasted glorious chances after the break and Bernardo Silva hit a post from an acute angle.

However, City had far too much for their visitors and after a difficult start to the season have now moved into a position from which they can mount a title challenge, having previously only been in the top five for a paltry one day and five hours all season.

For Newcastle, it felt like an exercise in damage limitation on a grim night weather-wise.

The Magpies had 24% possession and just two shots on target as manager Steve Bruce opted not to risk top scorer Callum Wilson at the end of a difficult 10 days which has seen his team collect a single point from three league games and exit the Carabao Cup at the hands of Championship outfit Brentford.

"We are far away from the top. Last week we were 10th in the table, all the season is up and down. There are weird results for everyone, this season you have to be calm in the good and the bad moments," City Boss Pep Guardiola, whose side travel to second-placed Everton on Monday, told reporters.

"That is the tempo we need to play. Today our positional game was perfect, unfortunately we could not score more goals but it is a good result and three more points.

"In 45 hours we have another game at Goodison Park ... tomorrow the players have to regenerate and prepare in one day. This pandemic puts us in an extreme situation, but that's how England likes it so we accept it."

Newcastle, who are 12th on 18 points, host league leaders Liverpool on Wednesday.

Meanwhile Sheffield United are "embarrassed" to be bottom of the Premier League and without a win, said midfielder Ben Osborn after the 1-0 defeat by Everton.

The Blades have two points from 15 games this season and are 10 points from a position of safety.

It is the joint-worst start to a season ever by any club in England's top four leagues.

"It is going to be really, really tough (to stay up). We just need to get that first win first," said Osborn.

Southport and Barrow in 1970-71 and Newport County in 1975-76 are the only other sides to have endured such a start, all in the fourth tier of English football.