Manchester City made it look easy at St. James' Park on Saturday, cruising past Newcastle United and adding three big points to their Premier League total with a hard-fought 3-1 win.
Roberto Mancini's men got a huge boost early when Sergio Aguero put them ahead 1-0 just 10 minutes into the match. Less than a half hour later, Javi Garcia would put City up 2-0 with a 39th-minute header.
Newcastle forward Demba Ba made things interesting shortly after halftime, scoring in the 51st minute to cut City's lead in half. But after nearly a half-hour of scoreless action, City midfielder Yaya Toure put the match away with a 78th-minute goal. The Blues would go on to win, 3-1.
The victory moves City three points closer to Premier League-leading Manchester United in the table.
Richard Whittall explains via Twitter how quickly the opinions of many experts, including those of commentator Ian Darke, changed on Saturday:
Ian Darke is now convinced the race has tightened again after condemning City to relegation at kick-off. Why? 1-3 against Newcastle.— Richard Whittall (@RWhittall) December 15, 2012
Meanwhile, Michael Curry expressed the importance of Newcastle bringing the same energy into their next match:
Decent performance by Newcastle today. We need to play with that spirit against QPR next week. Always tough against City.— Michael Curry (@MikeyPCurry) December 15, 2012
Rob Summerfield had some intriguing criticism about City's players during the first half on Saturday:
My brothers two toddlers send less time rolling round on the ground than these Man City players.— Rob Summerfield (@RobSummerfield1) December 15, 2012
Whether they were flopping or not, here we break down some of Saturday's key performers and hand out a grade to each.
Carlos Tevez, Manchester City: B
Lethal Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez may have not scored a goal on Saturday, but his activity up front for Mancini's club was worth a solid B. Tevez played energized and had five shots to show for his effort.
Danny Simpson, Newcastle United: C
Danny Simpson was arguably Newcastle's worst defender on Saturday, earning a 27th-minute yellow card and committing several fouls. Although he wasn't solely to blame for the three goals Newcastle conceded, he is worthy of being singled out for a less-than-solid performance vs. City.
This tweet from George Davis expresses the frustration a lot of Newcastle fans felt on Saturday:
Danny Simpson what are you doing!!Your a defender....! Your meant to defend!!— George Davis (@Geo7ge10) December 15, 2012
Sergio Aguero, Manchester City: B
Sure, Sergio Aguero's early goal was huge for City's confidence and their result this weekend, but although it was spectacular, it came with little pressure attached. Plus, not long after Aguero picked up a yellow card, his side's first of the match.
Liverpool's Brad Smith described Aguero's goal on Twitter as something one would see in a video game:
That was a fifa online goal by city haha— brad smith (@bradsmith_94) December 15, 2012
Aguero shouldn't be punished for scoring first, but his mistake that earned him a yellow card in the first half takes his performance down a notch, earning him a B.
Demba Ba, Newcastle United: A
Demba Ba's second-half goal was the only reason Newcastle were even able to chase a point late in Saturday's match. Ba cut City's lead in half not long after halftime, providing the home squad with a shot to level the match late.
Ba was the only Newcastle player to show up on the scoreboard on Saturday and also put up six shots, two of which fell on target. Therefore, he earns an A for his productive outing.
Javi Garcia, Manchester City: A
Sergio Aguero may have ignited City's scoring, but midfielder Javi Garcia is credited with the game-winning goal. Garcia's first-half score proved to be the difference, thus earning him the highest grade possible.
Here's Garcia celebrating with his teammates following his sweet finish (via Manchester City's official Twitter account):
MCFC) December 15, 2012
The reaction says it all and best sums up City's result on Saturday.
Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter.
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