Newcastle - Manchester City surged 15 points clear at the
top of the Premier League as Raheem Sterling fired the runaway leaders to a 1-0
win at Newcastle on Wednesday.
Pep Guardiola's side look certain to lift the title after
extending their Premier League record winning streak to 18 matches.
Sterling's 31st minute goal ensured City took advantage of
second placed Manchester United's costly draw with Burnley on Tuesday.
The only club in Europe's five biggest leagues to have had a
longer winning run is Bayern Munich, who earned 19 consecutive victories under
Guardiola in 2013-14.
City can equal Bayern's mark in their next match at Crystal
Palace on December 31.
Unbeaten City have also won a record-equalling 11 successive
away matches in the English top-flight, a total matched only by Chelsea in
Only Everton have prevented City from collecting maximum
points this season, and ultra-defensive Newcastle, who for long spells had 11
men behind the ball, rarely looked like adding their name to that select group
once Sterling poked home.
That the winger's fourth strike in three games was the
visitors' only goal was a major surprise as they underlined the gulf in class
between the top flight elite and the rest of the division.
They wouldn't have been flattered by a five-goal interval
advantage as they posted a 20th consecutive unbeaten league game against their
Sergio Aguero could easily have had a hat-trick, as the
Argentina striker struck the post with a close-range volley from a Fernandinho
Aguero also saw his goal-bound header from a Kevin De Bruyne
free-kick brilliantly saved by Rob Elliot, although the busy Newcastle
goalkeeper could do little to prevent City from almost inevitably claiming the
Sterling swapped passes with De Bruyne, whose lofted pass
perfectly met the England international's run into the area to beat Elliot with
a low shot which found the net off the foot of a post from a narrow angle.
Newcastle briefly threatened an equaliser when, after a slip
by England full-back Kyle Walker, Nicolas Otamendi had to head Rolando Aarons'
chip off the line under pressure from Joselu.
It was a rare threat from the hosts, whose negative approach
contributed to a fifth successive home defeat, the club's worst run at St
James' Park for 64 years to leave them a point above the relegation zone.
The loss of injury-prone skipper Vincent Kompany early in
the first-half to a recurrence of a long-term calf problem proved to be the
only downside for Guardiola.
The Spaniard was able to breathe a sigh of relief when
City's Ilkay Gundogan escaped a serious injury when Newcastle winger Jacob
Murphy somehow went unpunished for a reckless challenge on the midfielder.
The interval did little to stem City's momentum.
It was again largely one-way traffic in the second-half as
Aguero was again left frustrated when denied his side's second goal by an
assistant referee's flag for offside after the forward dispatched the rebound
when De Bruyne's long-range effort came back off a post.
Newcastle skipper Jamaal Lascelles came perilously close to
heading Aguero's pass into his own net.
But while the deficit remained at a single goal,
theoretically at least the hosts retained hopes.
These were raised when Dwight Gayle went down in the area
late on under challenge from Danilo, only for the substitute to rightly earn a
caution for diving from referee Andre Marriner.
Gayle's diving header as stoppage time approached flashed
just wide, but anything other than a City victory would have been hugely