Manchester City vs Newcastle United match report: Rolando Aarons and Moussa Sissoko add more misery for City

Manchester City 0 Newcastle United 2

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The Independent Football

Manchester City’s defence of the Capital One Cup ended in the meekest fashion possible on Wednesday night as Newcastle United raised further questions about the direction of the champions’ stuttering season.

In winning 2-0 to reach the first domestic quarter-final of Alan Pardew’s reign, Newcastle exposed not just the vulnerability at the heart of City’s defence but, moreover, ensured it is not the recently beleaguered Pardew but rather Manuel Pellegrini with the growing pile of awkward questions to answer.

For City, this was another highly unconvincing display after that Champions League draw at CSKA Moscow and defeat at West Ham United. At Upton Park they had failed to match their hosts’ work rate and here they looked even more sluggish, allowing an understrength Newcastle side to earn their first away victory at the Etihad with shocking ease, Rolando Aarons and Moussa Sissoko the men to inflict the damage.

It was the worst possible preparation for Sunday’s Manchester derby when the pressure really will be on Pellegrini’s side to step up a couple of gears and deliver a performance befitting the champions.

Pellegrini admitted afterwards that his team were suffering a “lack of confidence” and struggling at both ends of the pitch. “We are not playing well,” he said. “This week we have had three similar games where we conceded two goals in each game too easily and had a lot of chances we could have scored. It is a difficult moment. We are conceding goals too easily with individual mistakes but also we are not moving the ball as fast as we normally do and playing fluently as a team.”

David Silva was substituted after suffering a knee injury

Just to deepen the gloom he lost David Silva to an early injury – making him a serious doubt for the derby – and also saw Yaya Toure limp off in the second half. “David has a problem in his knee,” added Pellegrini. “I don’t know how serious he is.”

The Chilean also has to digest another uncertain 90 minutes from the £32m Eliaquim Mangala, who could easily have been sent off given that – prior to picking up a yellow card – he somehow avoided an earlier sanction after catching Newcastle midfielder Mehdi Abeid plum on the jaw with his forearm as they contested a loose ball in the second half.

City had begun the evening with seven changes from Saturday, with Pellegrini giving Vincent Kompany the night off altogether while dropping to the bench Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta and Sergio Aguero. Yet they still began with ten full internationals and the sight of a youthful, much-changed Newcastle side suggested the visitors were here just to make up the numbers.

Pardew’s starting XI included midfielder Ryan Taylor, making his first appearance after over two years out with a double cruciate ligament injury, and two teenage forwards in 18-year-old Aarons and Adam Armstrong, 17, yet they rose to the challenge impressively and ended up celebrating a second away success in four days after Sunday’s triumph at Tottenham. “They were outstanding in their discipline and the way they carried a threat all night,” said Pardew, delighted with a third straight win.

If Newcastle had not reached a domestic cup quarter-final since 2006, nor had they scored a single goal in six previous meetings with City. Yet they took only six minutes to take the lead. Not for the first time in this campaign, the champions paid the price for slack defending. Fernandinho was too casual as he collected a short pass from Aleksandar Kolarov and Taylor hustled him out of possession.  Aarons did the rest, accelerating into the same left-hand corridor that Sam Allardyce had asked West Ham to target last weekend. He sprinted away from Mangala and slid a shot under Willy Caballero at the near post.

Aarons, a Jamaican-born wide attacker, lasted till half-time when Sammy Ameobi came on, but together with Gabriel Obertan – “outstanding” according to Pardew – brought importance pace to the Newcastle attack.

Moussa Sissoko celebrates scoring Newcastle's second goal

Pace was one of the many things missing in City’s performance. They had plenty of possession but lacked appetite and urgency and threatened only intermittently. Goalkeeper Rob Elliot did well to claw out a Stevan Jovetic effort at the far post after Nasri had picked out the Montenegrin. Jovetic skied over another chance and in between Coloccini sliced a Kolarov cross against the far post.

The tempo was slow enough for Newcastle to get men back and frustrate their hosts and Paul Dummett should really have doubled the Tynesiders’ lead after 33 minutes when left unmarked eight yards out to meet Taylor’s corner but Caballero was equal to the low strike.

It was not their only chance and City were lucky not to concede a second-half penalty when Kolarov slid in rashly on Obertan inside the box and made no contact with the ball.  If that had Pardew hopping mad on the touchline, there were 3,000 Geordies jumping up and down in celebration after 75 minutes when substitute Sissoko sealed City’s fate. The midfielder dragged the ball away from Fernandinho on the edge of the box then ghosted past Bacary Sagna before beating Caballero far too easily. 

Edin Dzeko might have halved the deficit but failed to get his shot past the superb Taylor on the goalline but it would have been barely deserved. This was Newcastle’s night.