Manchester City crush Newcastle 4-0 to stay in title picture

MANCHESTER, United Kingdom (AFP) - Manchester City can cling onto their Premier League title for a few more days after a routine 4-0 victory over Newcastle United on Saturday brought Manchester United's lead at the top of the table back to 15 points.

Roberto Mancini's team had been facing the prospect of falling 21 points behind the league leaders had they lost to Newcastle and then been defeated by United in Monday week's Manchester derby.

However, goals from Carlos Tevez, David Silva, returning club captain Vincent Kompany and a James Perch own goal ensured a comfortable win.

City settled the outcome of the game with two goals inside the final five minutes of the first half at the end of a period of slowly mounting pressure at the Etihad Stadium.

After 40 minutes, Silva's pass to the left found defender Gael Clichy, who sent over the perfect cross that Tevez, arriving fractionally ahead of marker Jonas Gutierrez, slid into the open net from point-blank range for his 16th goal of the season.

There were chances for Tevez, who shot into the side netting, and Edin Dzeko, who saw a 12-yard shot saved by Rob Elliot, before Silva doubled the lead in first-half stoppage time.

Samir Nasri showed tidy skill on the edge of the area to slip a defender and feed the ball to Silva, who, from the corner of the six-yard area, gave Elliot no chance with a vicious shot into the far corner.

The goals had been coming, although Newcastle might have drawn first blood with the first notable chance of the game when Vurnon Anita floated in a 25th-minute cross that Papiss Cisse volleyed against the foot of Joe Hart's post.

Dzeko responded, after good work along the byline from Nasri, with a close-range shot that Elliot kept out.

Gareth Barry followed up with a wild shot over the open net.

There were also threatening free-kicks, from Tevez and Silva, as the pressure grew and Newcastle began to wilt.

Silva had the ball in the back of the Newcastle goal after 38 minutes, only for the effort to be ruled out, correctly, for offside.

Trailing by two goals, the Newcastle manager Alan Pardew brought on Perch as part of a tactical re-shuffle at the interval that brought about immediate improvements.

With City's defence truly tested for the first time, there was an element of panic creeping in as Yohan Cabaye played a clever one-two with Moussa Sissoko before sending a low, first-time volley whistling past the far post.

Cabaye was also on hand moments later to shoot over from 20 yards, a chance that proved to be Newcastle's last hope of a route back into the game because, after 56 minutes, Kompany further extended the lead.

A Silva corner led to a blocked Tevez shot and an opening that Barry drove goalwards from 20 yards, with Kompany, back after a 60-day injury absence, cleverly sticking out a boot to divert the ball past the wrong-footed Elliot.

The Newcastle goalkeeper had a chance to make amends moments later and duly saved well as Dezko shot at the end of another flowing City move.

But Elliot had little chance as Yaya Toure created City's fourth goal after 69 minutes.

With Newcastle's defence over stretched, Toure was able to slalom his way through three defenders and head towards the right-hand byline, from where his shot deflected off the boot of Perch before Elliot palmed it into his own goal.

It was a stroke of good fortune but no more than City's complete domination had merited and before the final whistle, Elliot saved well, once more, from a shot by substitute Scott Sinclair.

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