Bellamy fires winner on debut to sink Newcastle

Manchester City 2 Newcastle United 1
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The Independent Online

So Mark Hughes thinks he's had it bad these past two weeks. If he needed a sense of perspective in his life, he got one last night courtesy of Joe Kinnear – a manager who last night claimed Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has lost £2bn in the credit crunch and is only just able to pay his players' wages.

Kinnear said the financial losses were a matter of public record and his gloom was compounded by the fact that he has lost Michael Owen for at least six weeks and Joey Barton for possibly 10 with ankle and metatarsal injuries respectively. Little wonder he reflected, with Terry Venables and Harry Redknapp presumably in mind: "You see why so many people bottled the job. A lot of big names didn't have the arsehole to take it. That's how it is."

Kinnear and Owen barely exchanged words when Owen, who has managed just 62 games in three and a half years in the North-east, limped off after only 19 minutes and his look as Owen headed straight to the tunnel seemed disdainful. But the 29-year-old left Eastlands on crutches, with a cracked bone in his ankle and Barton has cracked a metatarsal in his right foot. Though Obafemi Martins, missing for 10 weeks, and Mark Viduka might be back soon, Ashley – at the ground to watch his side for the first time since his ill-fated appearance at Arsenal last August – will have wished he had not. "It's devastating when you look at Tottenham with their £16m for him, £14m for him," Kinnear reflected. "I would love to go and spend millions. But Mike's lost £2bin in his own business and that's the way it is. He's paying the wages – just about. We are still in there but we do need need help."

Kinnearalso happened to have just witnessed Hughes' new signings collectively demonstrated that Arab millions will actually buy you something more than negative publicity.

Craig Bellamy might not be the most likely individual to take his new club away from the current controversy but his debut goal capped a memorable night for a side the political spin doctors would call New City. The sight of a striker running at defenders, worrying them into playing an extra few yards deep, is something not seen since Nicolas Anelka was an employee of this parish and Bellamy provided that from the start.

"There are not a lot of players like Craig Bellamy on the open market and maybe their impression is clouded by previous misdemeanours," Hughes reflected. "Defenders have to give respect because they know the pace he has. He said he really enjoyed the first half and felt it was some of the best football he's been involved with."

City's 17th-minute goal revealed again the extra dimension Wayne Bridge has provided. It was one of his runs down the left which delivered the low cross that Robinho helped on to Shaun Wright-Phillips, who gratefully slid it under Steve Harper.

Nigel de Jong quickly asserted a defensive midfield authority, too, but it was summer buy Pablo Zabaleta who most impressed. His masterful control and cross teed up Bellamy's fine 77th minute strike into the bottom left hand corner. Bridge ruined the impression by conceding easy possession to David Edgar on the edge of City's box and allowing him to cross for Andy Carroll to tap in. But it was a rare blemish. The night was City's.

Goals: Wright-Phillips (17) 1-0; Bellamy (77) 2-0; Carroll (81) 2-1.

Manchester City: (4-2-3-1) Hart; Richards, Onuoha, Kompany, Bridge; Zabaleta (Fernandes, 82), De Jong (Elano, 78); Wright-Phillips (Caicedo, 90), Ireland, Robinho; Bellamy. Substitutes not used: Schmeichel (gk), Vassell, Jo, Garrido.

Newcastle: (4-4-2) Harper; Taylor, Edgar, Bassong, Enrique; Geremi (LuaLua, 90), Coloccini, Barton (Lovenkrands, 64), Duff; Carroll, Owen (Gutierrez, 19). Substitutes not used: Forster (gk), Xisco, LuaLua, Donaldson, Inman.

Referee: M Jones (Cheshire).

Booked: Manchester City Wright-Phillips; Newcastle Steven Taylor.

Man of the match: Zabaleta

Attendance: 42,280.

Owen and Barton add to Kinnear misery

The England striker Michael Owen is out for six to eight weeks with a cracked bone in his ankle after he limped off after 18 minutes against Manchester City last night.

Joey Barton, who was making his first return to face his former club City, also cracked a bone in his foot and he now faces 10 weeks on the sidelines.

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