Football: The hard part is done and Manchester City stand just a home win against QPR away from securing their first title since 1968.
But hard was the operative word as Newcastle made them work from the first minute until the last for the three points in yesterday’s crucial Premier League clash.
Yaya Toure’s brace of second-half goals were the difference and their importance was underlined by the scenes on the pitch, the touchline and in the stands, with the City fans celebrating long after the final whistle.
That they were the first goals Newcastle have conceded at St James’ Park in more than eight hours speaks volumes for the effort and commitment Alan Pardew’s side have put in all season.
To their credit after they went behind they continued their hunt for an equaliser and the three points were not secure until City’s second went in a minute from time.
It looked like it was going to be a long afternoon for Alan Pardew’s men as the visitors dominated the first-half.
David Silva and Sergio Aguero both went close but could find no way past Tim Krul in the Newcastle goal.
The visitors again went close before the break but both Fabricio Coloccini and David Santon cleared off the line in a chaotic scramble.
Their Alamo-like defending meant that the home side went into the break on level terms, although they could have been one up after squandering the best chance of the half when Hatem Ben Arfa’s wicked first-time volley almost beat Joe Hart at his near post.
While it was the goals that sealed the match, the decisive moment came in the 62nd minute when Nigel De Jong replaced Samir Nasri.
It released Toure from his defensive shackles allowing him to press forward, which in the end, made all the difference.
When his first goal arrived, it was simplicity itself.
Perhaps Newcastle switched off as Carlos Tevez was replaced Edin Dzeko but as play restarted they allowed Yaya Toure to play a simple one-two with Sergio Aguero on the edge of the area and then strike a curling shot beyond Krul’s reach.
As the Magpies pressed forward for an equaliser Toure could have secured the three points with seven minutes to play, but he slipped over with just Krul to beat.
However he made no mistake five minutes later after a sharp City counter-attack ended with him smashing home a close-range effort to leave both the game and, quite probably, the title race over.