Manchester City 0 Newcastle United 2
Manchester City relinquished their grip on the League Cup in the worst possible fashion. The lack of spark from Manuel Pellegrini's band was reminiscent of the insipid fare under former boss Roberto Mancini in his title-defence campaign.
Here was an embarrassment of an evening for the Premier League champions who, if they really harbour serious pretensions of retaining the crown and prospering in the Champions League, need to awaken from their current stupor.
The defeat means City's sequence is draw-loss-loss in their past three matches, with this reverse coming from an XI featuring Yaya Toure, Martin Demichelis, Eliaquim Mangala, Fernandinho, Edin Dzeko, Stevan Jovetic and James Milner.
The buzzwords of "intensity" and "pace" used by Pellegrini before kick-off proved prescient. The problem was they described Newcastle's flying start to the tie, which was led by Ryan Taylor. The midfielder was making a first appearance since August 2012 after a cruciate-ligament injury.
Within seconds of kick-off he proved a serious factor at each end. His first contribution for over two years was to tackle David Silva in a challenge that subsequently forced City's playmaker off with what appeared to be a knee problem.
After Toure skied the free-kick for the challenge, Taylor wandered into City territory to pickpocket a dawdling Fernandinho, taking the ball and rolling it into Rolando Aarons' path. The 18-year-old, one of six Newcastle changes, strode forward and beat Willy Caballero with ease to make it two goals in consecutive appearances, having scored in United's 3-3 draw with Crystal Palace in August.
Alan Pardew’s pre-game claim had been backed up. He had said: “Manchester City are vulnerable, West Ham showed that at the weekend and we’ll be hoping to get at them and expose them tonight.”
After the opening goal they continued to do so. Taylor was enjoying a fine return to the fray. It was the 30-year-old's corner that Daryl Janmaat connected with and should have made it 2-0. Instead, he hit the ball straight at a grateful Caballero.
Sluggishness was evident in nearly all of City’s play, particularly when defending. Bacary Sagna was outmuscled by the excellent Aarons near the edge of the area and Toure and Fernandinho later got themselves in a tangle over a regulation ball.
Going forward City were better, which has been the tale of their season. Milner and Samir Nasri, who had replaced Silva, combined but when the Frenchman dropped the ball on Jovetic's foot he failed to finish, shooting at Rob Elliot. When the rebound fell to the Montenegrin he was once more off target.
The closest City came to scoring was when an Aleksandar Kolarov cross was deflected on to Elliot's left post by Fabricio Coloccini. But just before the sides wandered off for the break, Adam Armstrong went close to doubling the advantage for United. This surely confirmed to Pellegrini that he needed to deliver a rollicking to his underperforming team.
The second half began with Aarons being replaced by Sammy Ameobi and Newcastle continuing to take the contest to the holders. When they got the ball, City hardly convinced.
There was a well-worked free-kick that involved Kolarov running round the back of the wall to wrong-foot Newcastle to deliver a cross from Milner’s pass, but neither Jovetic or the unimpressive Dzeko were on hand to finish.
The hour neared when Pellegrini decided to try and shake proceedings up. Off went Toure for Jesus Navas, whose pace the manager would have hoped could help retrieve the match. The truth was City were heading out of the competition.
They had a reprieve when Gabriel Obertan raced through and the ever-clumsy Kolarov chopped him down inside the area. But referee Stuart Attwell failed to blow the whistle and City escaped.
There was no hiding place moments later. Moussa Sissoko, on for Janmaat, received the ball and glided past Fernandinho and a flailing Sagna before cleverly firing home to give his side a 2-0 advantage.
Near the end Dzeko might have pulled one back but instead he smacked the ball against Taylor: who else? Now, City require some serious soul-searching before Sunday’s 168th Manchester derby. Guardian Service
MANCHESTER CITY: Caballero, Sagna, Demichelis, Mangala, Kolarov, Milner, Fernandinho, Toure (Jesus Navas 60), Silva (Nasri 9), Jovetic, Dzeko, Nasri (Aguero 70). Subs not used: Hart, Zabaleta, Fernando, Boyata. Booked: Mangala, Aguero, Milner.
NEWCASTLE UTD: Elliot, Janmaat (Sissoko 64), Coloccini, Dummett, Haidara, Ryan Taylor, Abeid, Colback, Obertan, Armstrong (Riviere 65), Aarons (Ameobi 46). Subs not used: Krul, Gouffran, Perez, Cabella. Booked: Dummett, Ameobi.
Referee: Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire).