Toon gunned down at Eastlands
NEWCASTLE UNITED tumbled to a 3-1 defeat at Eastlands today despite taking a first half lead through Oba Martins on a painful day for Big Sam.
Newcastle boss Sam Allardyce started the day by delivering a hammer blow to Toon keeper Steve Harper who lost his place between the posts after the manager favoured Republic of Ireland international Shay Given.
Groin victim Cacapa missed out with David Rozehnal joined by Steven Taylor in the heart of defence while Charles N'Zogbia egded out Jose Enrique at left-back.
But Mark Viduka was fit to start the game after shaking off a foot injury with the Aussie paired upfront with Oba Martins.
Given got in a mix up with six minutes on the clock when he failed to clear an N'Zogbia back pass with Emile Mpenza almost getting lucky as the Irishman played the ball against him before United cleared the danger.
Straight after the scare Oba Martins was sent clear but City forced the ball out for a corner before the home side survived the danger.
On nine minutes City keeper Joe Hart was called into action when Viduka's long range effort from the right channel had to be palmed round the post but Newcastle couldn't make the most of their early possession.
Yet on 12 minutes Given showed why he was number 1 when Stephen Ireland played in Elano only for the Eire stopper to make a great save when he pushed away a right footed goal bound effort from the edge of the area.
Mid-way through the game Newcastle could easily have had a penalty when James Milner was sent tumbling in the box but ref Chris Foy didn't want to know after Micah Richards sliding challenge left the England Under-21 star grounded.
Four minutes later though it was Newcastle who were rocking again at the other end after Ireland's right wing cross bounced off the crossbar but once again City failed to take advantage.
And they were made to pay with 16 minutes left of the first half when skipper Geremi clipped a long ball from the right into the box before Martins calmly lifted it over Hart to open the scores and grab his fourth of the season to take him clear as top scorer.
United almost went two minutes after that when Garrido's poke back to Hart sped past the City keeper before he frantically recovered to sweep it off the goal line.
However, with eight minutes left before the interval Ireland outpaced N'Zogbia on the right before rolling it across the face of goal for Martin Petrov to apply the finish at the back post and net his third goal in two games.
Ireland almost turned from provider to scorer when he raced clear after Elano's through ball but his shot hit Given on the chest when it looked certain he was going to put his side in front with three minutes left of the first half.
The save was another let off for United but City picked up where they left off in the second period and Petrov's fine run and cross down the left found Mpenza in the six yard box who sent a diving header beyond Given to make it 2-1.
That strike clearly calmed City down but instead of hitting back United slipped into the game's pedestrian pace too.
And it took until the 67 minute mark for Newcastle to create another clear chance, however, Martins could only find the side netting after forcing his way past Richards.
A Geremi free-kick from long range then forced Hart to push it over the bar on 71 minutes but once more City scrambled the ball clear.
With just 13 minutes left United pushed N'Zogbia up with Jose Enrique replacing Geremi.
City wrapped up the game with four minutes left when United conceded a sloppy free-kick and Elano drilled the ball into the top corner to make sure of the points.
CITY: Hart, Richards, Johnson, Ireland, Mpenza, Elano (Geovanni 89), Petrov, Corluka (Onuoha 58), Hamann, Dunne, Garrido.
Subs: Schmeichel, Samaras.
UNITED: Given, Beye, Rozehnal, Taylor (Faye 85), N'Zogbia, Geremi (Enrique 77), Butt, Smith, Milner, Viduka (Emre 88), Martins.
Subs: Harper, Pattison.
Ref: Chris Foy..