Allan Saint-Maximin makes Newcastle United point

Maybe Allan Saint-Maximin had a point.

Sunday, 8th May 2022, 7:15 pm

The winger had seemingly suggested that he would have more assists if he was playing with better strikers, though he insisted his quote had been “taken out of context”.

Yet the course of the game at the Etihad Stadium could have been different had a Newcastle player been able to convert his cross while the score was goalless.

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As it was, City went on to win comfortably to go clear at the top of the Premier League.

Fortunately for United, Callum Wilson made his comeback from a long-term injury, and he’s a striker who doesn’t spurn too many good opportunities. Kieran Trippier also made his return.

This defeat, however, wasn’t about one missed chance – as City were better in every department. They’ll take some catching over the coming years.

Newcastle ended the day in 13th place, and nine points clear of the relegation zone, with two games left to play.

Allan Saint-Maximin reacts to an opportunity.

United head coach Eddie Howe had made three changes, and recalled Jamaal Lascelles, Chris Wood and Sean Longstaff, while Jonjo Shelvey and Joe Willock were left out due to injuries.

Newcastle, backed by 3,000 noisy fans massed on three tiers behind Martin Dubravka’s goal, were on the back foot in the early stages. City, driven forward by Kevin De Bruyne, probed away, and Dan Burn made a couple of important early challenges.

United’s first opportunity came in the 10th minute – and it was a good one. Saint-Maximin delivered a good cross from the right, and Chris Wood headed straight at Ederson. The unmarked Joelinton, behind him, was in a better position to get on the end of the delivery.

The failure to convert Saint-Maximin’s well-placed cross would prove costly in the 19th minute, when Raheem Sterling put City ahead with a header after Joao Cancelo nodded an Ilkay Gundogan cross back across goal.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola shakes hands with Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe.

United had a close-range strike from Wood ruled out for offside midway through the half, and Howe soon sent Wilson and Trippier out to warm up.

However, the game was all but over by the time they would make their first appearances back from their respective Achilles and foot injuries.

Aymeric Laporte made it 2-0 before the break with a close-range strike after Dubravka failed to hold a superb strike from Gundogan.

Howe sent out an unchanged side for the second half, and Newcastle’s supporters tried to rouse their team, but City, in total control, picked up where they had left off at the interval – and pushed for a third goal.

Newcastle United's Martin Dubravka attempts to stop the ball as Raheem Sterling scores Manchester City's first goal.

It wasn’t long in coming. Rodri scored with a near-post header from a Kevin De Bruyne corner after getting away from Emil Krafth.

Pep Guardiola, in his programme column, had forecast a tough game against a much-improved United side, but Howe’s players, beaten 1-0 by second-placed Liverpool last weekend, could have no complaints about the scoreline just past the hour-mark.

Howe sent on Wilson and Trippier after Dubravka tipped over a shot from Oleksandr Zinchenko.

They couldn’t get Newcastle back in the game, and Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling netted late goals.