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Page last updated at 21:40 GMT, Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Man City 2-1 Newcastle

By Pranav Soneji

Shaun Wright-Phillips drills a shot past Steve Harper
Wright-Phillips' opener was created by the brilliance of Robinho

Debutant Craig Bellamy scored against his former club as Manchester City swept aside Newcastle at Eastlands.

City took the lead on 17 minutes when Shaun Wright-Phillips fired past Steve Harper from 10 yards, courtesy of two sublime touches from Robinho.

Bellamy doubled the lead on 77 minutes when his neat shot on the turn from the edge of the box left Harper stranded.

But Newcastle hit back on 80 minutes when David Edgar robbed Wayne Bridge to square for Andy Carroll to score.

Inevitably, the pre-match attention was focused on Robinho, bailed by West Yorkshire police following an alleged sexual assault in a Leeds nightclub on Tuesday evening, on what was also his first appearance since his record fine for walking out of training in Tenerife last week.

But City boss Mark Hughes kept faith in his record asset, naming 14m signing Bellamy alongside the Brazilian up front, while the erudite Nigel de Jong made his debut in midfield alongside Stephen Ireland.

The new signings look set to be joined by keeper Shay Given, who was name was conspicuously absent from the Newcastle teamsheet.

Although Newcastle maintained the Republic of Ireland goalkeeper was injured for the match, an offer of about 8m is expected to seal his departure to Eastlands.

Magpies boss Joe Kinnear, without a win in six matches, named Harper as Given's replacement, while Joey Barton returned to start against his former club for the first time.

Hughes happy to climb into top half of table

But the midfielder was powerless to prevent Ireland and De Jong from dictating the tempo of the first half. The pair were constantly snapping at the heels of their opponents, pressurising Newcastle whenever they were in possession in their own half.

And Wright-Phillips converted City's dominance into a goal in the 17th minute.

Bridge's left-wing cross found Robinho on the edge of the box and with two deft touches, the Brazilian found the path of the onrushing Shaun Wright-Phillips, whose right-foot shot from eight yards went through Harper's legs.


Within minutes of going 1-0 down, Newcastle suffered another setback when Michael Owen was forced to withdraw following a crunching challenge from de Jong, with Jonas Gutierrez replacing the England striker.

With a half-time dressing down from Kinnear ringing in their ears, Newcastle began the second half in complete contrast to the first, creating a sequence of passes without giving the ball away.

They had a plausible appeal for a penalty turned down by referee Mike Jones when Steven Taylor looked to have been impeded by Micah Richards inside the penalty box on 60 minutes.

And they made their first genuine attack on City's goal when Damien Duff's cross was cleared by Pablo Zabaleta on the line with substitute Peter Lovenkrands lurking dangerously.

Kinnear rues loss of key players

City had two claims for penalties turned down in as many minutes when Bellamy was floored by a robust Sebastien Bassong challenge before Wright-Phillips was nudged off the ball by Jose Enrique.

But on both occasions referee Jones dismissed the appeals, much to the chagrin of the home players and supporters.

However, the City fans were in full voice minutes later when Bellamy finished off a brilliant move involving Wright-Phillips and Zabaleta 13 minutes from time.

With his back to goal, the Wales international struck a superb shot on the turn from 18 yards to leave Harper flat-footed on his goal-line.

However, Newcastle were given a glimmer of hope three minutes later when Bridge was robbed on the byeline by the industrious Edgar, whose cross was side-footed in from two yards by the unmarked Carroll.

Despite a string of late substitutions, the visitors could not find the telling contribution for the leveller, going down to yet another Premier League defeat.

Manchester City boss Mark Hughes on Robinho:

"I spoke to him this morning and it was clear he was preparing for the game. I know the events of the last week have not changed his focus and I had no qualms about playing him tonight.

"I thought we played very well for the vast majority of the first half. Our movement and interchange between positions was excellent.

"We had more quality in key areas, Nigel de Jong and Craig Bellamy had a positive impact on the team and they will get better for us."

Newcastle United manager Joe Kinnear on Shay Given's future:
"There's no question that Manchester City want to sign him, we are doing everything we can to keep him.

"Last thing I know was Shay was locked in talks with the chairman and owner and we are waiting for the outcome. It's very difficult times for us.

"Joey Barton has been out for 10 weeks and just come back but looks as if he's going to be out for three weeks with a cracked ankle - and we only have one fit striker. Michael Owen is on crutches and he could be out for six weeks.

"We have a massive game coming this weekend against Sunderland and I don't know whether I have 11 fit players. So many key players are out injured and these are the players you need for a derby game. But we have to bite the bullet and get on with it."

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Man City's Shaun Wright-Phillips 7.91 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

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see also
Owen and Barton pick up injuries
28 Jan 09 |  Newcastle
Wednesday's football photos
28 Jan 09 |  Football
Robinho bailed over 'sex assault'
28 Jan 09 |  Manchester
Given 'ready for Man City talks'
28 Jan 09 |  Newcastle

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