MANCHESTER, England (REUTERS) - A Sergio Aguero hat-trick ensured Manchester City got back to winning ways in the Premier League after a 3-1 victory over Newcastle United at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday (Jan 20).
The Argentina international deftly headed in Kevin De Bruyne's cross in the 34th minute, before converting a 63rd minute penalty to put City in command.
Newcastle rallied, with Jacob Murphy's first goal for the club four minutes later getting his side back in it, before City goalkeeper Ederson almost gifted the visitors a leveller but recovered well to deny Mohamed Diame.
However, Leroy Sane set up Aguero seven minutes from time for his and City's third, as the home side bounced back from defeat at Liverpool to restore their 12-point lead at the top of the standings after Manchester United had briefly cut it to nine earlier in the day. Newcastle remain 15th.
"We need 10 more wins to be champions, and we'll try for more points," City manager Pep Guardiola said. "It was important how we reacted at 2-1, we didn't panic."
David Silva was restored to the City side, while injuries at left back meant Oleksandr Zinchenko was handed a full Premier League debut. However, Silva's presence didn't have the desired effect early on as City struggled to find any rhythm.
Raheem Sterling did have the ball in the net in the 18th minute, only to be denied by the linesman's flag for being offside.
Then, out of nothing City took the lead. De Bruyne picked the ball up on the left and clipped a cross into the opposition penalty area, with Aguero getting the faintest of touches to glance the ball home.
City continued to labour in attack until Sterling was fouled by Javier Manquillo to earn a penalty, which Aguero confidently converted.
"They are a very good team, our reaction was quite good. The penalty was a bit soft and it changed everything," Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez said.
Murphy then raced clear before finishing well to briefly unsettle City. Shortly after, Ederson was fortunate his error in failing to hold on to the ball wasn't punished by Diame.
Newcastle continued to press, but they were caught on the counter as Sane brilliantly dribbled his way into the box before pulling the ball back for Aguero to net his 22nd goal this season in all competitions.