Tempers fray as Man City go top at Newcastle
Manchester City went top in the Premier League on Sunday with a 2-0 win at Newcastle United that could have repercussions for both teams on and off the pitch.
Off it, Newcastle manager Alan Pardew heads those who may face disciplinary action after touchline rows that followed the controversial decision to disallow a goal by Cheick Tiote.
City, meanwhile, face the possibility of losing key player Samir Nasri for a lengthy period after he was taken off on a stretcher with a leg injury following a foul by Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa.
Edin Dzeko scored an early goal and Alvaro Negredo added another in stoppage time to give City their 10th successive win against Newcastle.
But the main talking point was referee Mike Jones’s decision to disallow Tiote’s goal because he considered that Yoan Gouffran, who was in an offside position, was interfering with play.
The fall-out from the contentious verdict was unsavoury as Pardew apparently swore at his City counterpart Manuel Pellegrini and coaches from both clubs went head-to-head in arguments.
Fourth official Martin Atkinson appeared to hear what was said and, although nobody was sent to the stands, there may be consequences once the Football Association receives a report on the match.
Jones’s decision, and what followed, overshadowed the frantic action of a fiercely contested match.
City extended their unbeaten run to 16 games, but they were indebted to goalkeeper Joe Hart for several fine saves as they came under pressure in the second half.
It took City eight minutes to take the lead, with Aleksandar Kolarov’s cross turned in by Dzeko, who had scored twice in the mid-week 6-0 demolition of West Ham United in the League Cup.
The goal provided the platform for an impressive spell from City. While they failed to carve out any clear-cut chances, the strength and authority displayed in midfield kept them firmly in control.
Newcastle finally created a chance when Yohan Cabaye’s half-volley from a sharp angle was turned over by Hart, leading to the corner that sparked the game’s furious controversy.
The ball was cleared to Tiote, whose fierce first-time shot flew through the crowded goalmouth and inside the far post.
Tiote was already celebrating with Pardew and the rest of the United coaching team when it dawned on them that referee Jones was consulting his assistant Stephen Child.
Child had spotted that Gouffran was offside and the fact that he had swerved to one side to avoid the ball was apparently enough to convince the officials that he had been interfering with play.
‘One-nil to the referee!’ was the chant aired in response by angry Newcastle supporters and the ill-feeling spread to the two dug-outs.
Pardew was still arguing with Atkinson at the beginning of the second half, which Newcastle began in encouraging fashion, with Vurnon Anita seeing a shot saved by Hart.
Pellegrini sensed the danger, sending on substitute Jesus Navas for Dzeko within six minutes and making sure City regained some of their earlier composure. But Newcastle remained the more enterprising side.
Tiote was a sturdy presence in front of his back four and the probing of Anita and Cabaye posed a threat that almost brought an equaliser when the latter’s shot was saved at full stretch by Hart.
Cabaye also went close in the 69th minute when his long-range shot dipped just over the bar, while Hart saved well with his legs after a collision between Vincent Kompany and Pablo Zabaleta presented Loic Remy with a glorious chance two minutes later.
It was to be their last opportunity. City went close as Fernandinho struck the bar before Negredo broke clear mid-way through seven minutes of stoppage time to seal Newcastle’s fourth successive defeat.