BBC : Manchester City 2-1 Newcastle United

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Kyle Walker
Walker scored his first goal for Manchester City

Kyle Walker's brilliant second-half strike preserved Premier League champions Manchester City's unbeaten start to the season as they secured a battling victory over winless Newcastle.

City had seen title rivals Liverpool and Chelsea win earlier on Saturday and had to work hard for three points to keep pace at the top end of the table.

Full-back Walker was the match-winner with his first goal for the club, picking the ball up 30 yards out and drilling a low finish into the far corner of the net.

Pep Guardiola's side were forcing the issue against a Newcastle side set up to defend at Etihad Stadium and took the lead within the opening 10 minutes through Raheem Sterling's curled effort.

But the home side missed clear-cut chances and were punished when striker Salomon Rondon set up DeAndre Yedlin to stroke home the equaliser before half-time.

It proved to be Newcastle's only shot on target in the match, however, and Rafael Benitez's beleaguered side have now collected just one point from their first four games.

City keep pace with early leaders

City strolled to the title last season with a record number of points, victories and goals but early indications suggest they will have to battle much harder to claim back-to-back triumphs.

No team has managed to achieve the feat since rivals Manchester United won three in a row between 2007 and 2009, with leaders Liverpool and second-placed Chelsea two points ahead in the table and boasting 100% records after four games.

City drew against Wolves last time out and having been pegged back against the Magpies, it looked as if they might drop further points, but England international Walker's rasping drive in the second half was the difference.

The hosts had signalled their intent from the off as club record signing Riyad Mahrez dragged a shot wide, before Sterling opened the scoring with a brilliant strike on seven minutes.

Striker Sergio Aguero narrowly failed to add to his 14 goals against Newcastle, coming close with an effort that went just wide.

Little to smile about for Newcastle

Average position
The average position graphic shows how far Manchester City (left) were camped inside the Newcastle half

Newcastle's wretched form against City now stretches to 22 top-flight meetings without victory. They have lost their last 10 away from home against these opponents.

The north-east side were knocked out of the Carabao Cup in midweek by Championship side Nottingham Forest and already occupy one of the relegation spots in the Premier League.

With talks of unrest between manager Benitez and owner Mike Ashley - one report saying the two do not speak directly - and a training group row between captain Jamaal Lascelle and Matt Ritchie, it looks like being a difficult season for Newcastle.

Benitez was criticised for his unadventurous approach in the loss to Chelsea in their previous league game, where they had just 19% possession, and they fared only slightly better with 21% against City.

And as in the defeat at Stamford Bridge, they failed to hold out after equalising, with summer signing Rondon cutting an isolated figure at the top of the pitch for much of the game.

Defeat could have been much worse had it not been for goalkeeper Martin Dubravka, who stopped well off Gabriel Jesus and made an excellent double save to deny Fernandinho and David Silva.

Man of the match - David Silva (Manchester City)

The diminutive Spaniard ran the show for City again, completing 87.7% of his 73 passes

What next?

The teams are back in action after the international break. Manchester City host Fulham in the Premier League on Saturday, 15 September (kick-off 15:00 BST), while Newcastle play Arsenal at the same time.

Mendy's magic - the stats

  • Manchester City have won each of their past 10 Premier League home games against Newcastle, their joint-longest run of home wins against a single opponent in the top-flight (also 10 v Wolves between 1900 and 1937).
  • Newcastle have registered just one win in their past 10 away Premier League games (D3 L6).
  • Manchester City hit the 750 mark for home Premier League goals in this game (160 at Maine Road and 590 at the Etihad).
  • Since the start of last season, only Mohamed Salah (45) and Harry Kane (35) have had a hand in more Premier League goals than Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling (31 - 20 goals, 11 assists)
  • Benjamin Mendy is the third City player to assist as many as four goals in their first four games to a Premier League season, after Samir Nasri in 2011-12 and David Silva in 2015-16.
  • Newcastle full-back DeAndre Yedlin is the first American player to score in the Premier League since Geoff Cameron for Stoke v Aston Villa in March 2014.
  • Kyle Walker scored his first goal for Man City in all competitions in his 52nd appearance for the club.
  • Sergio Aguero has been directly involved in 17 goals in 12 Premier League appearances against Newcastle (14 goals, 3 assists), more than against any other side.

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