What a game of football.
Revenge, a dramatic comeback, an overturned red card and brilliant goals – Newcastle versus Manchester City is already laying a strong claim to be game of the season.
On a thrilling afternoon at St James’ Park, the reigning champions took a fifth-minute lead through Ilkay Gundogan, before goals from Miguel Almiron, Callum Wilson and Kieran Trippier gave Newcastle a 3-1 advantage after 54 minutes.
Could the hosts hang on to inflict City’s first league defeat of the season? No. Erling Haaland and Bernardo Silva scored within four minutes of each other to make it 3-3.
But that was not the end of the drama as Trippier was shown a red card only for his knee-high trip on Kevin de Bruyne to be downgraded to a yellow card after a pitchside check as both sides left with a point apiece.
“This was an incredible game of football,” said former Everton striker James McFadden on BBC Radio 5 Live. “The pace of this game was relentless, what a performance from everyone on the pitch. Magnificent, end-to-end.
“There were a lot of twists and turns. Brilliant from Newcastle – and Manchester City showed quality and class to get back in the game. But the way both teams performed, a draw was probably fair.”
Almiron has the last laugh
For the revenge aspect, we need to cast our minds back to May after City had just clinched the Premier League title – their fourth in five seasons – by fighting back from 2-0 down to Aston Villa with 15 minutes remaining to get the 3-2 victory they needed to finish top.
The City players partied hard, with England forward Jack Grealish leading the way. Clips were soon on social media of him and Silva discussing what had been the vital moments of their win over Villa.
“Riyad [Mahrez], take him off the pitch, as soon as possible. He played like Almiron,” a croaky and worse-for-wear Grealish said, although those words would come back to haunt him on Sunday.
The Newcastle fans showed their support for the Paraguayan winger before the game with a huge banner praising ‘Miggy’.
With Grealish not playing because of injury, Almiron provided the perfect riposte to the criticism by scoring the first – converting a cross from Allan Saint-Maximin, with the goal being awarded after a video assistant review after it had originally been ruled out for offside.
“I am proud of Miggy every time he runs on the pitch and that was a lovely touch from the supporters,” said Newcastle boss Eddie Howe.
“They are an understanding group and have shown their support for Miggy.”
McFadden added: “The disrespect shown by Jack Grealish was unprofessional and maybe the whole stadium would have been egging Almiron on there to score today.”
For Almiron, the last laugh would be his. At the final whistle, he handed over his jersey to a fan who had produced a banner saying ‘Miggy, can Grealish have your shirt?’
‘Newcastle are becoming one of the toughest opponents’
After three league matches, both sides are unbeaten in the Premier League, with Manchester City second on seven points and Newcastle sixth with five points – the same total they had after 11 games of 2021-22.
“Newcastle are becoming one of the toughest opponents for sure,” said City boss Pep Guardiola.
“Leeds beat Chelsea [3-0]. The Premier League is so difficult for everyone. It shows how amazing we’ve done for five years and how difficult it will be.
“To see the team fight to the end is enough – it was a proper football game.
“That atmosphere after the game, that is what football is all about.”
Newcastle 3-3 Man City: Citizens showed who they are – Guardiola
Howe added: “It was an incredible game and a rollercoaster of emotions. We went 1-0 down – which is the worst possible start against this team because then you have to chase the game, but the players responded brilliantly.
“For the neutral, I’m sure it was an incredible game but we needed something from the game and the players deserved it.
“It was mentally tiring because I was trying to help the team when you know the game has swung in their balance but you also don’t want to do something that harms us as well.
“Hopefully everyone is entertained.”
Entertained, we certainly were.