- Daniel Gallagher-Parker
Review and Player Ratings from Haaland-inspired rescue – Newcastle United 3-3 Manchester City
Manchester City rescued a point at St. James' Park with goals from Erling Haaland and Bernardo Silva after trailing 3-1 in the 54th minute, maintaining their unbeaten start to the Premier League season.
After Pep Guardiola seemingly confirmed City had a fully fit squad on Friday, Jack Grealish missed out on the trip to the North East due to picking up a knock against AFC Bournemouth in the previous fixture. Bernardo Silva returned to his 2018 roots and started his first game of the season from right-wing, partnered with Erling Haaland and Phil Foden to complete the front three.
John Stones also made his first start of the season, with Ruben Dias making way for the English central defender, while the rest of the starting XI remained the same, with new signing Sergio Gomez named amongst the substitutes for the first time.
Rodri, who saw his highest goal-scoring season in his career last year (12), had the first attempt of the game, but it never looked like troubling Newcastle's new shot-stopper, Nick Pope, as the Spaniard's effort from a distance was always rising above the bar.
It took Guardiola's side less than five minutes to take the lead, and for the second game on the bounce, they did so via their captain, Ilkay Gundogan. The German started the attack with a lofted switch to Silva out wide, who had enough time to wait for his teammate to run from his own half, untracked, into the opposition box and calmly finish from just six yards out.
Kevin De Bruyne was the next man to test Pope after some brilliant traditional #9 holdup play from Haaland, the Norwegian set the midfielder on his way but the Belgian's shot lacked any real conviction and Pope dealt with the near post effort with ease.
Foden had a similar chance, from a similar angle, just on the other side of the pitch. To Guardiola's dismay, Foden opted to shoot rather than square it across goal for City's new centre-forward, and it was the same outcome as De Bruyne's earlier effort, with Pope producing a save with his feet to keep the scoreline at 1-0.
Newcastle had a few moments that kept the home crowd engaged, with Joe Willock showing that Kyle Walker is only human, and believe it or not, he actually can be outpaced.
Nathan Ake had to be replaced early on as Guardiola feared the Dutchman couldn't last any longer and, despite Ake's best pleas, Dias entered the action. Ake looks likely to face a spell on the sidelines after a promising start to the campaign for the 27-year-old in which he nailed down a starting berth.
Minutes after, Newcastle once again proved threatening to the City defence. This time it was Miguel Almiron who had the opportunity, but his effort from around the penalty spot was blazed over the bar.
Despite City controlling the first 15 minutes of the game, they ended up being placed on the backfoot by constant waves of Newcastle attacks, Allan Saint-Maximin forced Ederson to make a save, but the Brazilian, despite little involvement in the previous two games, was equal to the task.
The Magpies soon brought the scores back to level in a rather unconventional way. Saint Maximin's cross into the box was met by Almiron, who threw everything at the ball to make sure he didn't make the same mistake as earlier, and this effort found the back of the net via his thigh.
Just over five minutes before halftime, Callum Wilson collected Saint Maximin's pass in his stride and put his side into the lead with a right-footed finish into the side netting of Ederson's goal.
One of the issues in the first half that seemed apparent was Walker was unable to handle Saint-Maximin – as when City had possession, he was coming inside and playing as a midfielder, and with Newcastle's rapid transitions, even a player as fast as Walker couldn't make up the distance needed and appropriately defuse the situation.
Even after the interval, Guardiola remained true to his decision and kept playing the same system.
Haaland, who hadn't had many chances in front of goal in the first half, had to create one for himself in the second, as he beat his man and looked like he had the beating of Pope as well, but the fingertips of the goalkeeper edged it onto the post.
Kieran Trippier doubled Newcastle's lead with a spectacular free kick that Ederson stood no chance of saving. The English right-back, known for his set pieces, curled it into the top left corner from just outside the box.
Haaland, with his third Premier League goal of the campaign, gave the travelling Sky Blue fans some hope with 30 minutes left to play after he latched onto a loose ball and smashed it into the back of the net.
Moments later, the Norwegian had another chance as he bulldozed his way through the Newcastle defence, but he was smothered well by Pope.
Just three minutes after City's second went in, they had scored their third. De Bruyne with an early contender for the assist of the season, as he played an inch-perfect pass through Newcastle's midfield and defence for Silva to run onto and place home into the bottom right corner after Haaland drew defenders towards him, vacating space for the Portuguese international.
Trippier momentarily received a red card for a cynical challenge on De Bruyne, but after VAR ordered Jarred Gillett to go and check the monitor, the referee felt a challenge to the knee, with both feet off the ground, at full speed on a counter attack was only worthy of a yellow card and overturned his decision.
Haaland had another opportunity to score a second of the day as he was the first to react to a loose ball once again, but this time his effort went over the bar.
Despite City's best efforts, they couldn't quite find it within them to score the winner as the game came to an end with a 3-3 scoreline.
A lot more positives to take from the second half for City, Rodri didn't look his best in the first 45 minutes, but he certainly improved his performance. Meanwhile, even when Haaland has a quiet first half, he is capable of levelling up and finding a way to force himself onto the scoresheet.
Man of the Match
Bernardo Silva. After a summer of speculation regarding his future, the rumours were finally put to bed earlier on in the week as the midfielder geared up for another season in Manchester. The Portuguese international barely put a foot wrong in a match that was flooded with mistakes. Silva produced a fine cross to assist his side's opening goal and then found a pocket of space to run in behind Newcastle's defence and calmly slot home to ensure the Blues walked away with a point.
Ederson - 6
Walker - 5
Stones - 6
Ake - 6
Cancelo - 6
Rodri - 6.5
De Bruyne - 8.5
Gundogan - 8
Bernardo Silva - 9
Haaland - 8
Foden - 6.5
Dias - 7
What's next for Manchester City?
City fly to Spain straight after their high-scoring draw against Newcastle to prepare for their mid-season friendly against FC Barcelona that kicks off at 20:30 BST on Wednesday 24th August, where the fans of the Spanish giants will finally get to watch Bernardo Silva play at the Camp Nou.
Written by: @DanGP17_
Follow our Twitter account for reliable, live updates on all the latest news and everything Manchester City in real time.