Manchester City started their Premier League season with victory over Newcastle United on Sunday, exactly as they did 12 months ago when their campaign ended with a championship party.
This latest 2-0 win, achieved through goals from David Silva and Sergio Aguero, was not as convincing as last year’s 4-0 success at the Etihad Stadium, but it provided evidence that this season could have the same triumphant outcome.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side were typically well-organised and hard-working, against a Newcastle team given an injection of optimism by a close-season of hectic transfer activity overseen by their manager Alan Pardew.
And while they did not create many chances, City always had a greater cutting edge than Newcastle, even if the hosts threatened to cause an upset in the closing stages.
City went ahead in the 38th minute at St James’ Park, although the pattern of the game had been set long before then.
Newcastle saw lots of possession and were as lively and determined as one would expect in the first game of the season in front of their own crowd.
But they made errors with the ball that City looked to exploit, such as when Stevan Jovetic lofted a pass through to Edin Dzeko in the third minute, obliging Tim Krul to make a smart save.
The Dutch goalkeeper was involved again after 11 minutes when he dived full-stretch to turn away a 25-yard effort by Samir Nasri.
Newcastle’s first effort came in the 16th minute through Remy Cabella, who showed some neat touches on his debut following his move from Montpellier and demonstrated his quick thinking with a lob that drifted over the bar.
Moussa Sissoko should also have done better when he fired over from the edge of the area just a minute before City broke again to add a second goal, steered in by substitute Aguero after his initial shot had rebounded off Krul.
Cabella also featured in a promising Newcastle break in the 31st minute when his incisive pass created an opening for Emmanuel Riviere, who sliced his hurried shot well wide.
Cabella’s performance suggested that he could become a firm Newcastle favourite, but City’s opener seven minutes before the interval betrayed the hosts’ weaknesses at the other end of the pitch.
Mike Williamson and Fabricio Coloccini both steamed across after Yaya Toure found Dzeko with a lofted pass, but neither player could prevent the innovative back-heel with which the Bosnian picked out the arriving Silva.
The pint-sized Spaniard did the rest, taking a touch to steady himself before steering an angled shot inside Krul’s left-hand upright.
It was a similar story in the second half. Newcastle looked lively in midfield, but new striker Riviere was too often left isolated.
Yoan Gouffran did have two close-range shots blocked and Paul Dummett headed over the bar from Jack Colback’s free-kick.
But Jovetic twice went close for City and Dzeko directed a header just over the bar as the frailty of the Newcastle defence was again exposed.
Newcastle, who started with four new signings, almost equalised in the 84th minute through another new face, Ayoze Perez, who had been on the pitch only 20 seconds when his shot was deflected wide by Fernando.