Manchester City 3 Newcastle United 1: Sergio Aguero hat-trick edges club closer to relegation zone
Sergio Aguero blew away Newcastle United at the Etihad Stadium tonight.
Aguero scored a hat-trick in Manchester City's 3-1 win over Rafa Benitez's side.
The strikes took Aguero's personal goal tally against United to 14 goals from 12 games.
Aguero put the Premier League leaders into a 2-0 lead with a goal in each half, but Jacob Murphy briefly gave the 3,000 travelling fans hope with the first goal of his Newcastle career.
However, Aguero – who had scored four goals against United on their previous visit to the Eithad Stadium the season before last – completed his hat-trick seven minutes from time to end hopes of a comeback.
The result has left Newcastle just two points above the relegation zone ahead of next weekend's FA Cup tie against Chelsea.
United manager Benitez had made four changes to his team and recalled Isaac Hayden in a five-man defence.
Murphy, Javier Manquillo and Joselu also returned to Benitez's starting XI, while Matt Ritchie, DeAndre Yedlin, Ayoze Perez and Dwight Gayle dropped down to the bench at the Etihad Stadium.
There was an anti-Mike Ashley chant in the first few minutes from the club's away fans, though the club's owner was not at the Eithad Stadium to hear it.
City had 82% of possession in the first half. Newcastle just couldn't get out of their half and lone striker Joselu had to come deep looking for the ball.
The home side created a series of half-chances in the first 30 minutes, and their breakthrough didn't come until the 34th minute when Aguero got the faintest of touches to a left-wing cross from Kevin de Bruyne.
Two minutes earlier, Karl Darlow had comfortably held a shot from Raheem Sterling, who had earlier had a goal ruled out for offside.
City put more pressure on their visitors before the break, but they couldn't add to their advantage.
They had to wait until the 63rd minute for their second goal. Referee Paul Tierney pointed to the spot after Manquillo bundled over Sterling in the box. Aguero stepped up and stroked the ball past Darlow, but Newcastle weren't quite finished.
Four minutes later Ciaran Clark set Murphy away inside City's half, and the winger delicatelu lifted the ball over Ederson to halve the deficit.
Darlow denied Sterling at the other end of the pitch before Mohamed Diame tested Ederson after powering into the home box.
Benitez sent on Gayle for the last 14 minutes, but the next goal went to City.
Sadio Mane squared the ball for Aguero after making a brilliant run down the left, and Aguero turned and shot past Darlow.
MANCHESTER CITY: Ederson; Walker, Stones, Otamendi, Zinchenko; Silva, Fernandinho, de Bruyne; Sterling (Silva, 86), Aguero, Sane. Subs not used: Bravo, Danilo, Gundogan, Mangala, Adarabioyo, Diaz.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Darlow; Manquillo (Yedlin, 66), Hayden, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett; Shelvey; Murphy, Diame, Shelvey, Atsu (Perez, 64); Joselu (Gayle, 76). Subs not used: Elliot, Haidara, Merino, Ritchie.
Goals: Aguero 34, 63 (pen), 83, Murphy 67
Bookings: Clark 78
Referee: Paul Tierney (Lancashire)