Match Report

Alvarez strike sees City edge past Newcastle for record home win

Alvarez strike sees City edge past Newcastle for record home win
Premier League
Premier League
Sat 19 Aug
Julián Álvarez 

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Manchester City made it two wins from two at the start of the 2023/24 Premier League season with a 1-0 victory over Newcastle United at the Etihad Stadium.

Pep Guardiola’s defending champions, seeking a record fourth successive top-flight title, were made to work hard by a much-fancied Newcastle side but a wonderful Julian Alvarez finish just after the half hour mark earned us the three points.

It means we have now won 17 consecutive home matches across all competitions, setting a new Club record that has stood since 1921 and was equalled just last year.

The result also extends our incredible home form against today’s opponents, with Newcastle still yet to win at City since our move to the Etihad Stadium in 2003.

What happened

The Treble winners were welcomed into the Etihad Stadium by giant tifos of all three major trophies won last season stretching down from the top tier of the East Stand.

Both sets of players also passed by the Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup silverware themselves as they made their way on to the pitch.

Pep Guardiola asked City fans for loud and loyal support if we were to overcome a side tipped by many to repeat last year’s Champions League qualification.

All four sides of the stadium responded with vociferous backing as the two teams traded early blows without truly testing either goalkeeper.

The home side became the dominant force as the first half wore on, with Rodrigo and Mateo Kovacic in particular pulling the strings in midfield.

Newcastle’s defending became increasingly frantic, with only blocks on a Julian Alvarez cross and Kovacic piledriver keeping the ball away from Nick Pope in goal.

That was until the 31st minute, when the increasing pressure told with a pinpoint Alvarez finish.

Kovacic, always looking to progress the ball forward, threaded a pass between the lines that was collected by Phil Foden.

Our England man laid the ball for Alvarez on the edge of the box, who took one touch and rifled an unstoppable shot inside the far post of Pope’s goal.

Newcastle’s goalkeeper got a fingertip to the shot but it was struck with such venom and accuracy that no stopper on the planet could have been expected to keep it out.

Erling Haaland thought he had City’s second around ten minutes later but his hooked left-footed finish across goal from a Foden pass crept just wide of the far post.

The first chance of the second period came in novel fashion, with Ederson hammering a goal kick down the middle for Haaland and Newcastle’s Sven Botman to tussle for.

Our No.9 held off the tall Dutch defender and hit a shot on goal but it was straight at Pope.

Eddie Howe attempted to change things just before the hour with the introduction of Harvey Barnes and Sean Longstaff, but instead it served to drive City on.

Incisive dribbling from Foden created two openings for Haaland in quick succession but the Norwegian missed the target with his first and saw his second blocked by the right foot of Pope.

An almost unheard of lapse in concentration from midfield linchpin Rodrigo presented a breakaway chance for substitute Callum Wilson in the 70th minute.

The England striker just had to get beyond Josko Gvardiol in order to get through on Ederson's goal.

However, our latest recruit was more than up to the task, forcing Wilson backwards and enabling blue shirts to recover in numbers.

With Newcastle desperately seeking an equaliser, the game became ever more stretched in the closing stages.

Turnovers in possession saw both sides burst into life, with Foden in particular coming closest for City.

However, a solid defensive performance meant Ederson's goal remained largely unbothered even against one of the most dangerous attacks in the league.


CITY XI: Ederson, Walker (C), Akanji, Dias, Gvardiol, Rodrigo, Kovacic, Foden, Grealish, Alvarez, Haaland

Subs: Ortega Moreno, Phillips, Ake, Gomez, Perrone, Bobb, Palmer, Lewis, McAtee

NEWCASTLE XI: Pope, Trippier (C), Schar, Botman, Burn, Bruno G. Tonali (Anderson 65), Joelinton (Longstaff 55), Almiron (Livramento 86), Gordon (Barnes 55), Isak (Wilson 65)

Subs: Dubravka, Lascelles, Ritchie, Targett

Home record

The Etihad is a fortress.

Unforgettable results here were the backbone of our charge to Champions League glory last season, as well as the fuel that maintained our Premier League title hunt despite extreme pressure from Arsenal.

Now we have won our last 17 games here across all competitions, setting a new Club record.

Ernest Mangnall’s side in 1920/21 were the first to reach 16, before Guardiola’s Blues equalled it just last year.

With this result, this team now stand alone with yet another record broken under Guardiola’s guidance.

Pep Guardiola reaction

"It’s the second game of season but it proves why we won a lot.

"The mindset and mentality of this group of players is amazing every time and surprises me every time.

"Against that team and in the conditions that we arrive, with a lot of injuries and no rest, how they run and the commitment for everyone was absolutely amazing."

Man of the Match

Phil Foden - When Foden performs like this, he seems to glide across the turf rather than run.

As City fans already know, the 23-year-old can be electric.

Starting out on the right wing but often popping up in central areas, the Academy graduate was able to slice through Newcastle's midfield almost at will.

It was his movement off the ball that saw him in the perfect place to set up Alvarez however, finding a pocket in which Kovacic could thread the ball through to him.

Once there, he weighted his pass inside perfectly for Alvarez to take one touch and bury his chance.

Our No.47 was a constant menace for the remainder of the night, particularly excelling at two points in the second half, and could have easily registered more assists had we had been at our prolific best in front of goal.

Marvelous mateo

Given his incredible technical ability and long history of winning major trophies, it always seemed unlikely the Croatian would require too long to bed in.

Few could have predicted it would look quite so natural so soon. The No.8 is always looking to play the ball forward, whether that’s by skipping beyond his man or passing through the lines.

Performing alongside Rodrigo, Kovacic has also helped to lessen the load on the Spaniard and allow him to push further up the pitch.

It was also Kovacic’s crisp ball for Phil Foden that ripped through Newcastle and created the space that led to Julian Alvarez’s sweet strike.

It was his home debut, but you would be forgiven for thinking Kovacic has been part of this side for years already.

Cool Croatian

Josko Gvardiol has started two games for City now, and is yet to look flustered by anything he has come up against.

The Croatian was again at left-back, directly up against Miguel Almiron on that wing.

Whether it was with the ball at his feet or defending against a famously all-action attack, Gvardiol was cool, calm and composed. Just as he was against Sevilla in midweek.

His key intervention came in the 70th minute, when a rare lapse from Rodrigo presented the ball to Callum Wilson.

With just Gvardiol to beat to earn himself a one-on-one chance, the England striker found his progress halted by the big defender.

Complete Rodrigo

Rodrigo may have joined City as a holding midfielder in 2019, but he is so, so much more than that now.

The Spaniard scored some vital goals last term, namely the Champions League final strike on that fateful night in Istanbul.

Working with Guardiola, in the position the boss called his own as a player, was always going to see our No. 16 improve.

On the evidence of his performances so far this season, Guardiola’s trust in Rodrigo is only growing.

With Kovacic and Manuel Akanji alongside him while we’re in possession, the 27-year-old now appears to have more responsibility in progressing the ball forward and joining in attacks himself.

He said before Wednesday’s Super Cup win that he wants to add more goals to his game. If he keeps pushing the Blues on in such a way, it seems only natural that a more regular supply will follow.

What it means

City start the 2023/24 Premier League campaign and our hunt for a record fourth successive title with two wins from two.

At this stage, we are one of only two sides to have played two games and won them both. Arsenal and Crystal Palace face each other on Monday night, with the only two remaining 100% records on the line.

What’s next

City now have the rare luxury of an entire week to prepare for our next game.

We head to Bramall Lane at 14:00 next Sunday to face Sheffield United in our third Premier League assignment of the new season.

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