Man City 2 Newcastle 0: Gundogan and Torres goals extend unbeaten run to ten games as Guardiola's men go fifth

FERRAN TORRES could yet give Manchester City’s stuttering season a Silva lining.

The £20.8 million summer signing from Valencia took on the famous number 21 shirt vacated by Etihad legend David Silva.

And the young Spain international is now needed to play a big role just like the midfielder did so many times in the past. 

With Gabriel Jesus out with coronavirus and Sergio Aguero feeling his way back from a serious knee injury, Pep Guardiola has no fully fit strikers.

Going into key games at Everton and Chelsea this week, it could be a real worry for a team struggling to find the net.

But just as he has done in the Champions League this season, Torres popped up with a big goal in the win over Newcastle.

And Pep might well need more from him over the next few days to keep his team’s title chances alive.

After all, Spanish forwards called Torres normally score goals in England, don’t they?

Guardiola said when he arrived in England back in 2016 that the Boxing Day fixtures were something he was looking forward to.

But having lost two more key players to Covid-19 in the days leading up to this in Kyle Walker and Jesus, he might have had a slightly uneasy feeling.

Even so, City’s record against Newcastle should have eased any nerves.

They have won the last 11 meetings against the Toon – with an aggregate score of 39-7.

Last time, the Geordies won an away game at City was back in the Maine Road days – more than 20 years ago.

So this was probably the last game Steve Bruce wanted as he tried to pick up his players from their Carabao Cup disappointment at Brentford.

And after a low key opening, it was no surprise when City took the lead just before the quarter hour mark as Kevin de Bruyne and Joao Cancelo fashioned an opening for Raheem Sterling down the right.

Instead of going for goal he turned sharply – foxing Fabian Schar completely – before sliding the ball back for Ilkay Gundogan to fire home.

The German opened the scoring in City’s last home game here against West Brom in mid December and they failed to take advantage.

But there was a different feel about this one and De Bruyne almost added a second with a cross shot that Karl Darlow had to claw away.

The keeper also made a save to deny Ferran Torres although the Spaniard must have known a pass to Sterling was a better option.

The former Valencia man’s superb volleyed pass set De Bruyne clear but Darlow stood up well to deny him.

Sterling then sprang the offside trap to get in again down the right but this time his effort was deflected into the side-netting.

City had completely dominated but it was an all too familiar feeling for Guardiola as his team had failed to kill off their opponents.

Even with seven clean sheets from their last nine – and just two goals conceded – he was not able to relax with just a one goal lead.

And just before half-time, Joelinton gave something of a warning as he flashed a header just wide.

Soon after the restart Jacob Murphy got some space on the right and his low shot needed a smart save from Ederson to keep it out.

However just as the visitors were threatening to make a game of it, they gifted City a second goal.

Newcastle had various chances to clear their lines before a low cross from the impressive Cancelo was not dealt with by Federico Fernandes.

It fell at the feet of Torres who had the simple task of rolling the ball into the corner for his second Premier League goal for his new club.

Guardiola’s enthusiastic celebration spoke volumes about how the goals have dried up for City this season. His team had mustered only two in their previous three league matches.

Bernardo Silva could have added another one after a low cross from Sterling but he blasted his shot form a narrow angle against the post.

Torres could have got his second of the night as he failed to get anything on another wicked low cross from Cancelo.

That was his last action before he was repaced by Aguero – who should have added a late goal himself but for a brilliant save by Darlow.

The Argentine – who was only fit enough for a brief cameo – would normally have expected to score that with his eyes closed.

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