Newcastle and Manchester City served up a thrilling 3-3 draw at St James’ Park in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon.
The Magpies, remarkably, held a 3-1 lead at the hour mark after a fine display to that point, but goals from Erling Haaland and Bernardo Silva rescued a point for Pep Guardiola’s men, who now sit second in the table, four places above their opponents.
The visitors had exploited poor defending from Newcastle to open the scoring after just five minutes. Bernardo Silva drifted in off the right wing and curled a cross to Ilkay Gundogan at the far post, who had time to trap the ball before dispatching it into the net.
City threatened to run up a huge score, but eventually the home side regrouped.
Allan Saint-Maximin especially was unplayable. He conjured a gilt-edged chance for Miguel Almiron in the 17th minute, which the Paraguayan ballooned over the bar, before setting up Almiron again for the equaliser after 28 minutes.
Five minutes before half-time, it was Saint-Maximin again racing through City’s midfield, this time slipping a pass to Callum Wilson on the edge of the box, who gave Newcastle a 2-1 lead.
The second half began with more of the same.
Saint-Maximin was hauled down on the edge of the box not long after the break, and Kieran Trippier struck a magnificent free kick to extend Newcastle’s lead.
The Toon continued to pour forward in numbers and had chances to put more daylight between themselves and their opponents, as City looked nervous and on the verge of collapse.
Then came four minutes which saw the match turned on its head.
City caused chaos at a corner, winning another in the confusion. From that, De Bruyne hung up a cross at the far post which Rodri nodded down for Erling Haaland to convert and get the visitors back into the match.
Haaland then had another chance straight after to level the scores, but Pope surged out of his box to deny the Norwegian.
Moments later though, City were level as De Bruyne disguised a through-ball which only Bernardo saw coming. The Portuguese was alone in front of Pope and finished calmly for 3-3.
Trippier was sent off 10 minutes later for a foul on Kevn De Bruyne. VAR intervened though, and Trippier was instead only cautioned.
City dominated the closing moments, but must be satisfied with a point won from a dire position.
TALKING POINT: MAN CITY’S ACHILLES HEEL
Manchester City’s weakness has long been against the counter attack. Guardiola’s side inevitably dominate possession and push forward in numbers. Logically, the space is there to attack. What Newcastle showed though, is the importance of intelligent transitions and counter-attacking in numbers.
Their fluid front four of Saint-Maximin, Wilson, Joelinton and Joe Willock pulled City apart on the break time and time again. When those attacks broke down, they pressed aggressively, forcing numerous turnovers in dangerous areas.
They should probably have had more than their two first-half goals, and City were unable to deal with them.
The crucial element was Saint-Maximin. The Frenchman reliably beats the first man, providing time for his teammates to break forward and make themselves available for the pass.
City did eventually stem the flow of passes to Saint-Maximin, and only then did they find a foothold in the match, eventually fighting back to 3-3.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH
Saint-Maximin was magnificent in the first half against City. He had two assists, and if not for Almiron’s shocking miss, could have had more.
He won free kick after free kick in the second half as City gave up trying to stop him legitimately. And it was the Frenchman who was hauled down on the edge of the box to set up Trippier’s goal.
He was vital to Newcastle’s gameplan and played his role perfectly. His dribbling, always his chief asset, gave his teammates time to push forward on the break and provided an outlet whenever City’s long phases of possession were broken up.
His decision-making was brilliant, and he tore England defender Kyle Walker to pieces.
Newcastle: Pope 9, Trippier 8, Schar 6, Botman 7, Burn 6, Bruno 6, Willock 7, Joelinton 7, Almiron 7, Saint-Maximin 10, Wilson 7 Subs: Krafth N/A, Wood 5, Murphy 5, Longstaff 6
Man City: Ederson 6, Walker 3, Stones 5, Ake 5, Cancelo 6, Rodrigo 6, De Bruyne 7, Gundogan 8, Bernardo 7, Haaland 7, Foden 7 Subs: Dias 5
5’ GOAL – MANCHESTER CITY
Bernardo Silva drifts in off the left wing and finds Gundogan free in the box. City’s captain controls the ball and hammers his shot past Nick Pope.
17’ ALMIRON BLOWS HUGE CHANCE
Saint-Maximin skips by his man on the edge of the box and pulls it back to Miguel Almiron who is alone on the penalty spot. Almiron leans way back and fires his shot into row z.
28’ GOAL – NEWCASTLE
Miguel Almiron makes up for his blown chance earlier, sliding in to convert Saint-Maximin’s right-footed cross from the left.
39’ GOAL – NEWCASTLE
Newcastle go from end-to-end in seconds. Saint-Maximin receives a long ball on halfway and weaves through the City midfield. As defenders close in, the Frenchman rolls the ball into the path of Wilson, who takes a touch and finishes well to beat Ederson.
54’ GOAL – NEWCASTLE
Kieran Trippier steps up and whips a magnificent free kick into the top left corner of the goal.
60’ GOAL – MANCHESTER CITY
De Bruyne hangs it up at the far post and Rodri nods down for Haaland to drag Manchester City back into the match.
64’ GOAL – MANCHESTER CITY
De Bruyne slips a brilliantly disguised through ball to Bernardo Silva who anticipates the pass and darts in behind the advancing Newcastle backline.
76’ RED CARD – NEWCASTLE
Kieran Trippier is sent off for a cynical foul on a counter-attacking De Bruyne, but VAR intervenes and downgrades it to a yellow card.