Football Features

Kevin De Bruyne comes off the bench to inspire Man City’s 3-2 comeback victory over Newcastle

By Harry Edwards

Published: 19:43, 13 January 2024

Kevin De Bruyne came off the bench to change the game for Manchester City as they beat Newcastle 3-2 in the Premier League

Bernardo Silva opened the scoring for Man City midway through the first half but just over 10 minutes later they were trailing thanks to goals from Alexander Isak and Anthony Gordon.

Newcastle looked to have control on the scoreline but De Bruyne made his long-awaited return to the Premier League after injury and equalised just over 15 minutes left to play. De Bruyne was then involved in the winner, setting up Oscar Bobb in the dying stages for Man City to secure the comeback.

Here’s how the players rated at St James’ Park:

Newcastle

Martin Dubravka – 8 – Had to produce a good save to deny Bernardo Silva, but was otherwise troubled in the first half. Did get a slice of good fortune after spilling a corner, with the ball rebounding straight back to him. He really stepped up when needed in the second half and ended the game with eight saves, though he was eventually beaten by a bit of magic in the dying stages. Over the past two league games, Dubravka’s save tally is 18.

Kieran Trippier – 8 – He wasn’t involved too much in the opening stages but as Newcastle’s confidence grew he started to make his mark on the game. And he was resolute defensively too, especially when Newcastle were holding out for a result, making six tackles. But unfortunately he couldn’t quite hold on in injury time.

Fabian Schar – 8 – Won the ball and brought the ball out to start move for Newcastle’s equaliser, showing composure in finding Guimaraes in the middle of the pitch. De Bruyne’s equaliser when through his legs but you can’t really blame him as he did his defensive job pretty well.

Sven Botman – 7 – Great defending on Doku, when the Belgian looked through on goal to equalise. Helped keep things tight in the middle of the pitch, frustrating Man City.

Dan Burn – 7 – Didn’t deal well with Walker in the early stages but had a more comfortable game as Newcastle took control. Put a good pass down the line to release Gordon for Newcastle’s second.

Sean Longstaff – 6 – Put the ball in the back of the net inside two minutes but it was offside. Was overrun in midfield as Man City dominated but grew into the game, though was just a slight level below the rest.

Bruno Guimaraes – 8 – Fluffed a chance to capital on Ederson’s error, completely messing up his shot. He was booked shortly after, his ninth Premier League yellow card of the season, more than any other player. But then he played through Isak for the equaliser with a wonderful first-time pass over the Man City defence. Great defending to tackle Foden and then clear under pressure from Rodri inside the six yard box. He was brilliant.

Lewis Miley – 7 – Looked a little lost in the opening stages, outplayed by Rodri and Kovacic. But he grew into the game and played through Isak for the Swede’s good chance, breaking the lines with a good pass.

Miguel Almiron – 8 – Good closing down to force Ederson’s error. He then messed up an opportunity with a weak header to Isak after an Ortega error. But this was a standard Almiron performance in which he ran constantly and pressed non-stop.

Alexander Isak – 7 – Broke through to set up Longstaff’s disallowed goal and though he was just offside, it was a sign of things to come. Closed down an Ortega pass but couldn’t get good control on Almiron’s header back. Showed composure and confidence to equalise with a wonderful curling finish, facing up against Walker. He also put great pressure on Rodri in the middle of the pitch to win the ball back for Gordon’s goal, and should have made it three himself having been played through by Miley but his shot was poor. Scoring in three consecutive league games, Isak is just the second Swede to net 10+ goals in two or more Premier League seasons after Freddie Ljungberg (in 2001/02 and 2004/05). Each of his lats six Premier League goals have either been an equaliser or put Newcastle ahead.

Anthony Gordon – 7 – He had to sit back to track Walker for quite a bit of the first half and left him wide open in the build up to Silva’s goal, moving infield towards the ball. But when Newcastle were in attack he was great. He first produced a good off the ball run to divert some of Walker’s attention for Isak’s goal, before putting Newcastle 2-1 up with a great curling finish. It was his seventh league goal this season, with Gordon also having scored against Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United. Just Tottenham to come for the ‘Big Six’ sides.

Substitutes:

Lewis Hall (for Gordon 86) – N/A – A late sub.

Man City

Ederson – N/A – Got rocked by an early injury during the disallowed goal. He thought he could carry on but it quickly became clear that he needed to come off, almost giving away a goal. It was the earliest goalkeeper substitution in a Premier League game since November 2019, when Jed Steer had to come off after eight minutes in Aston Vila’s 2-1 defeat to Wolves.

Kyle Walker – 5 – Pushed high up the pitch, essentially playing a winger at times and he put in a great cross to set up Silva’s opener. Ironically, he was also the deepest defender playing Isak onside in the build up to the Swede’s goal. He then faced up against Gordon for the second goal, but lost that battle too, having been slow to track the Englishman’s run.

Ruben Dias – 5 – He really struggled with Man City’s high line, with a lack of pace counting against him.

Nathan Ake – 5 – Looked very weak playing the high line, and it was his side in particular that was targeted by Newcastle in the opening stages.

Josko Gvardiol – 5 – Like Walker, he pushed very high up the pitch and even found himself in central areas, taking two shots in the first half. But that was a problem for Man City for more than one reason. First, he wasn’t the man they wanted in those positions, but it also allowed Newcastle to focus their attacks down his flank. Even when he was tracking back, Newcastle beat him on more than one occasion with an overlap.

Mateo Kovacic – 6 – When Man City were on top early on he looked good, but as they needed the midfield to step up when chasing, he didn’t gel well with Rodri. Gave the ball away in a dangerous area trying to be clever with a back heel, and was lucky it didn’t come to anything.

Rodri – 8 – Produced a good block on Isak’s shot when Man City were in control, but was robbed off possession in the build up to Gordon’s goal. Tried to pull the strings for Man City, pushing higher up the pitch and got the assist for De Bruyne’s equaliser. Forced Dubravka to make a good save late on.

Bernardo Silva – 7 – Dropped deeper to receive the ball in the early stages, looking to be at the start of Man City moves. But he was the man in the box to flick the ball into the back of the net from Walker’s cross. It was a cheeky effort, and the only way he would have finished it, given the position of the ball and defence. He’s now scored in three consecutive Premier League away games for the first time since December 2021. Silva has also been directly involved in eight away goals in the Premier League this season, the fifth-most in the division.

Phil Foden – 6 – The man Pep Guardiola hoped would weave his magic, Foden was the most dangerous player at times, but he just couldn’t find that killer touch. He wasn’t in the game as much in the second half either.

Jeremy Doku – 5 – Started out wide but moved more central with Gvardiol pushing high up the pitch, Doku did have a good chance to make it 2-2 shortly after Newcastle went ahead but he was well defended. Was otherwise pretty quiet.

Julian Alvarez – 5 – He had six shots, with three of those hitting the target, but it didn’t feel like Alvarez really troubled the Newcastle defence. He was involved in the action but not the goalscoring threat Man City needed. There was one chance in particular that even brought anger from his teammates, sending the ball into the top tier when it was basically a guaranteed goal had he kept it down.

Substitutes:

Stefan Ortega (for Ederson 8) – 7 – Looked shaky with his feet but made a good save on Isak in the first half. Well-beaten by two wonderful curling efforts. Was more important in the second half and had to keep Man City in it a few times.

Kevin De Bruyne (for Silva 69) – 8 – Came off the bench for his first Premier League appearance in 155 days, and within five minutes he pulled Man City level, passing the ball into the bottom corner from outside the box. He then set up the winner with a great pass to Bobb. He’s now been directly involved in 11 Premier League goals against Newcastle, only managing more vs Southampton (14) and Arsenal (12), while 28 of his 65 goals in the competition have come from outside the penalty area (43%). Of players with 50+ goals in the competition, only David Beckham (55%) has a higher such proportion. His introduction really changed the game.

Oscar Bobb (for Doku 82) – 7 – Won the game for Man City with amazing footwork to take the ball around Dubravka in the dying stages. Unbelievable.

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