Manchester City eventually prevailed and sealed a place in the last eight of the Capital One Cup after extra-time goals from Alvaro Negredo and Edin Dzeko gave them a 2-0 win over Newcastle United at St James’ Park. For 90 minutes and beyond it had been a lifeless affair of little intensity or goal-mouth action, but a much-changed City side in the end found the quality required to see of their Premier League rivals.
Before the two goals in the first period of extra time, it had been the home side that had forced the better openings. Yet Newcastle, who suffer further disappointment following Sunday’s derby loss to Sunderland, lacked a clinical touch. Both Shola Ameobi and Papiss Cisse were denied by Costel Pantilimon as City’s backup goalkeeper did his chances no harm of replacing the under-fire Joe Hart for the Premier League clash against Norwich City on Saturday.
The inclusion of Pantilimon, who was always going to start in this match regardless of Hart’s continuing errors, was one of 10 changes made by City boss Manuel Pellegrini from the 2-1 loss against Chelsea at the weekend. It was perhaps no surprise then that Newcastle, featuring the relatively meager five changes, were the better side in the opening period.
With City barely getting out of walking pace, that Newcastle were superior is hardly saying much for the home side, however. It wasn’t until midway through the period that alan Pardew's men started to show some intensity. And with their more direct tactics they caused a completely altered City backline some moments of peril. It was Ameobi that most of Newcastle’s chances were falling too.
After Moussa Sissoko twice saw near-pose efforts blocked, it was Ameobi whose quick-fire shot from the angle was turned excellently past the post by Pantilimon. He was beaten, though, minutes later. Cisse should have at least tested Pantilimon with a shot from the corner of the six-yard box but it ended up going across the face of goal to be put in by an offside Ameobi.
City’s only efforts of note in the first half came right at the end, first when Negredo volleyed over and then with Micah Richards having an adrenaline rush to see him burst into the box before the blood rushed to his head as he fired wildly off target.
It was similar rashness that gave City a chance as they upped their levels moving into the second period. Tim Krul was reckless in first coming for the ball and then trying to shield it out of play, but Milner’s shot at a vacant goal from the angle was never threatening the net.
The introduction of Yohan Cabaye and David Silva midway through the second half saw an injection of quality into both sides, but there was little improvement in the overall quality on show. Indeed, the first real move of class didn’t arrive for City until the 78th minute in what was also the first time Negredo and Dzeko had linked up to any great effect all night. From Dzeko’s return ball, Negredo moved into the area, held off a defender, but narrowed his angle and in the end Krul was able to block his dink wide.
It was only in the final minutes of normal time that city, and to a slightly lesser extent Newcastle, decided with any great conviction, they’d quite like to win the game, or, at the very least, avoid having to play an extra 30 minutes.
With the start of extra time came Newcastle’s best chance of the contest. Cisse controlled ball over the top, but, one-on-one with Pantilimon, he was thwarted by the Romanian’s sizable frame. And, instead, it was at the other end where the deadlock was finally broken.
Dzeko did well to get past Mathieu Debuchy down the left and put a low ball across for his strike partner to turn the ball past Krul for his fifth goal in Manchester City colors. Six minutes later the lead was doubled and progress all-but secured for the visitors.
Again the kind of interplay missing for so long was displayed, with Milner exchanging passes cleverly with Silva before laying a pass through to Dzeko, who coolly took the ball round Krul and slid it into the empty net.
Hatem Ben Arfa had an effort cleared off the line late on, but Newcastle’s 120 minutes of effort had been in vain.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.