City had to settle for a point against relegation-threatened Newcastle after a disappointing 1-1 draw at St James’ Park.
Sergio Aguero scored his 100th Premier League goal to give the Blues an early lead, but the hosts fought back to earn a vital point in their battle to stay up and ended the game in the ascendency.
The Blues were far from their best and will once again be looking in the rear-view mirror at the pack of clubs looking to secure Champions League football next season.
Needing to consolidate third spot, City were looking for a thirteenth successive win over a Newcastle side that needed points for very different reasons. The hosts knew they could haul themselves out of the bottom three with a victory over the Blues – something they’d not managed in the Premier League since 2005.Manuel Pellegrini made three changes from the side swept aside Chelsea so impressively at the weekend with captain Vincent Kompany among the trio recalled.Repeating the swagger and style from Stamford Bridge was never going to be easy, despite the hosts sitting second bottom in the table, but the Blues started confidently and were soon in front.Aleks Kolarov won and then whipped in a free-kick from the left and who else but Aguero was on hand to nod home from eight yards – to complete his City Premier League century and his sixth against Newcastle alone this season. There was more than a shade of good fortune about the goal with Kun clearly offside when the kick was taken, but City have will feel it maybe balances one or two borderline goals scored by opponents over the past month.Disappointingly, the Blues didn’t really kick on from there – as it seemed they would - and the opportunity to exploit the hosts’ fragile confidence was lost as Newcastle gradually fought their way back into the game and just past the half-hour, the scores were level.The warning signs had been posted two minutes before as Moussa Sissoko burst clear only to be denied by Joe Hart, but when Sissoko found Vurnon Anita in the next attack, the Magpies midfielder cut inside of Kolarov and had too much time to place a low shot into the net via the far post.That was the best of the action before the break – within five minutes for the re-start Aguero went down in the box under a clumsy challenge from Chancel Mbemba, but the referee waved play on. Replays suggested he may have been wrong. It would prove to be a pivotal decision.Four minutes later Jesus Navas ran into the box and struck low shot after a sublime pass from Yaya Toure, but third choice keeper Karl Darlow made a fine low save to keep his side level.City just needed to crank it up a notch but there had been too many misplaced passes and a general air of lethargy about Blues’ overall play with, instead, the hosts sniffing the chance of a rare victory in this fixture.Aguero and De Bruyne fizzed low shots in without joy and sub Wilfried Bony forced a decent save out of Darlow in the dying minutes.But perhaps the past chance to win the game fell to Newcastle sub Georginio Wijnaldum who wriggled clear in the box only to be denied by a brave Hart save - but overall, City were well below par and will consider this two points dropped in the race for a top four finish.