With our FA Cup Quarter Final against Manchester City on the horizon, we thought it would be a great opportunity to revisit our previous triumph over the Citizens, rewinding the clock back to January 2019.
A lot has changed since this match took place, most notably a new manager now sitting in our dugout, while Manchester City have also been dethroned as Premier League champions.
Going into this fixture in January 2019, dark clouds were starting to blockade the sunlight into St James’ Park. Hovering just above the relegation zone we picked up just 2 wins in our previous 10 matches as we welcomed title chasing Manchester City.
In contrast the blue team from Manchester were entering the match on the back of 4 consecutive wins, aggressively hunting down Liverpool for the prized top spot.
It was perceived by many, not just pundits and neutrals but also within a large section of our own fan base that 3 points would be completely unreachable.
We had become accustomed to leaving these fixtures empty handed, not claiming victory over City in 22 previous matches. Sergio Aguero was pinpointed as the primary threat, with his haunting 5 goal haul in 2015 still raw in the memory.
Those fears directed at the Argentinian were brought to fruition just 24 seconds into the match.
Almost immediately from kick off Raheem Sterling found space on the right hand side of the pitch. He drifted in-field, taking up a position just outside the box as he scooped a delicate ball to the back post for David Silva. The Man City veteran then played an intelligent header back across the box, catching out not just Dubravka, but the whole backline as Ageuro was there to fire it home.
With the meticulous attention to detail offered by Rafa Benitez, there was no doubt we were set up to keep the away team at bay, at least until the latter sections of the game when we could utilise a counter attacking system.
Unfortunately with our resilience broken down before the clock reached the first minute, it seemed more likely than ever that our tedious record in this fixture would continue.
As expected the Newcastle United backline came under heavy fire for the remaining of the first half, with Lejeune, Schar and Dubravka preventing our goal from being breached again in the first 45″.
The game continued in a similar pattern as the second half resumed, until the 66th minute. Against the run of play, Ritchie had the ball on the left wing of the pitch, with multiple black and white shirts in and around the City box.
The initial cross from the Scot was headed clear by Fernandinho but this only reached Isaac Hayden who had occupied a position on the edge of the box. He fired a header back into the box, dropping a ball in the mix with Christian Atsu, Ayoze Perez and Salomon Rondon causing a nuisance in the area.
The ball appeared to hang in the air as our Venezuelan number 9 adjusted his body, as the ball dropped he executed an acrobatic volley, bundling the ball past a helpless Ederson.
The goal stood and every single Georide in the stadium would have been overwhelmed with the prospect of a point. In classic Newcastle United fashion (Admittedly not always positive) the unexpected then followed.
The team in black and white had the wind in their sails, being cheered on by a brimming St James’ Park.
Manchester City remained calm, following the philosophy instilled by Pep Guardiola. Pass, pass, pass. This Newcastle team also had their own philosophy, work harder than your opponent and never give up.
Laporte received the ball in his own box and came under immediate pressure from Yedlin. The centre half then released the ball yards away to full back Danilo, who again came under pressure, this time by the relentless Ayoze Perez. With no where to turn, the City full back then offloaded the ball back to Fernandinho who was instantly suffocated in his own box. Rondon on one side, and Sean Longstaff on the other.
This heavy pressing allowed the emerging Sean Longstaff to nick the ball of Fernandinho, before the Brazilian fouled him in the box. A penalty was awarded.
The air was filled with huge anticipation, nerves and excitement travelled through the crowd as a 2 minute delay postponed the penalty take.
As Ritchie finally stepped up to the penalty spot in the 80th minute, he looked confident. He smashed the ball low and right, he certainly had some of his built up range behind the strike. Although Ederson got fingertips to the ball, he could not keep it out and the scoreline had seen a full reversal.
We ran down the clock and picked up all 3 points as the whistle blew for full time. The Manchester City squad offered a look of despair, with what seemed like a breaking point in their title challenge, while Newcastle were finally starting to look up.
Main Talking Point
The outstanding memory I have of this fixture was the positivity that flowed through the city after the match. With 3 points added to our total it seemed we were finally starting to pull away from the relegation fight, while victory over Manchester City added to the rarity of the occasion. Off the pitch, the touted record signing of Miguel Almiron was also edging closer.
What Happened Next
After the victory over Manchester City, we went on to pick up a further 6 wins and end the season in 13th place. The arrival of Miguel Almiron added further South American firepower, while Ayoze Perez hit a real purple patch of form, ending the season as joint top scorer with on-loan forward, Rondon.
For Manchester City, this match turned out to be just a blip on their way to defending their Premier League title. They went on to win every single remaining fixture (14 in total) before ending the season as champions with 98 points.
Hopefully we can repeat the result today as we aim to reach the FA Cup Semi Final for the first time since 2005. Come on Newcastle United!
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