MANCHESTER, England — Julian Alvarez’s first-half goal handed Manchester City a hard-fought 1-0 win over Newcastle on Saturday in the defending English Premier League champion's first home match since winning the treble last season.
Alvarez curled a shot into the top corner after 31 minutes of a tight match at Etihad Stadium that showed the gap between Newcastle and the league's top teams may have shrunk even more after Eddie Howe's side finished fourth last season.
Newcastle, buoyed by thrashing Aston Villa 5-1 last weekend, was looking for a first league win at City in almost 23 years.
Yet the host, despite making just two changes following its European Super Cup game in Athens in midweek, was too strong and successfully nullified the visitor.
Pep Guardiola’s players were far from their fluid best, but they produced a professional performance to follow up their opening win at Burnley. In Alvarez and Phil Foden, they had the brightest players on the pitch.
City started slowly but began to step up the pressure midway through the first half and threatened for the first time when Manuel Akanji curled a long-range attempt over.
Alvarez then whipped in a low cross but failed to find Erling Haaland before Mateo Kovacic and Foden both had efforts blocked.
Foden grew into the game and was a lively presence, having stepped into the playmaking void left by Kevin De Bruyne's long-term injury.
Foden was instrumental in City’s goal, finding space and darting into the area before pulling back for Alvarez. The Argentine forward did the rest, picking his spot from the edge of the area and firing a shot beyond Nick Pope.
Haaland went close early in the second half, first after holding off Sven Botman to shoot at Pope and then mishitting another shot wide, again from a Foden pass.
Newcastle had a good spell toward the end, and Harvey Barnes was presented with a chance after a rare misplaced pass by Rodri, but he shot straight at Ederson from distance.