Newcastle United 1 Manchester City 1: Refereeing blunder costs Magpies in relegation battle

Sergio Aguero scored a controversial goal
Sergio Aguero scored a controversial goal

Newcastle United moved a point closer to safety on a night dominated by a costly refereeing blunder.

Rafa Benitez’s side drew 1-1 with Manchester City in a pulsating game at St James’s Park tonight.

And the result saw the second-bottom club move to within two points of 17th-placed Norwich City.

The game was dominated by the decision to let an offside goal from Sergio Aguero – his 100th in the Premier League – stand in the 14th minute.

Aguero was a yard offside when Aleksandar Kolarov swung in a disputed free-kick, but his header was not ruled out by referee Kevin Friend and Dave Bryan, his linesman.

A gutsy Newcastle fought back and levelled through a Vurnon Anita goal just past the hour-mark.

Moussa Sissoko – who had forced a save from Joe Hart himself two minutes earlier – played in Anita with a cross-field ball, and the right-back cut inside and shot across City’s goalkeeper and into the far corner of the net.

Both sides pushed for a winner after the break.

Benitez threw on Aleksandar Mitrovic, Georginio Wijnaldum and Rolando Aarons in the second half, but United couldn’t get a winning goal, with Wijnaldum denied late on by Joe Hart.

Newcastle’s players – who had ran themselves into the ground – were given a standing ovation by the club’s fans.

But Friend and his assistants were booed off the field.

United are back in action on Saturday when they take on Liverpool at Anfield, a stadium where they haven’t won a league fixture since 1994.

NEWCASTLE UNITED: Darlow; Anita, Mbemba, Lascelles, Dummett; Tiote, Colback; Townsend (Wijnaldum, 80), Sissoko, Perez (Aarons, 90); Cisse (Mitrovic, 55). Subs not used: Woodman, Saivet, Shelvey, de Jong.

MANCHESTER CITY: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Mangala, Kolarov, Fernando, Delph (Sterling, 68), Navas (Bony, 84), Toure, De Bruyne, Aguero. Subs not used: Caballero, Demichelis, Otamendi, Fernandinho, Iheanacho.

Goals: Aguero 14, Anita 31

Bookings: Anita 44, Perez 56, Kompany 66, Sissoko 90

Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)

Attendance: 46,424