London (AFP) – Sergio Aguero scored a hat-trick as Manchester City restored their 12-point lead at the top of the Premier League with a 3-1 win at home to Newcastle United on Saturday.
City’s 30-match unbeaten run in the league, which spanned two seasons, came to a dramatic end with a 4-3 defeat by Liverpool at Anfield last week.
But their return to winning ways here had manager Pep Guardiola proclaiming his side needed 10 more victories to be crowned champions.
Their advantage at the top of the table had been cut to single figures, for a few hours at least, when second-placed Manchester United beat Burnley 1-0 earlier on Saturday.
Normal service resumed in the day’s late kick-off, though, with Aguero glancing in Kevin De Bruyne’s cross in the 34th minute to open the scoring at the Etihad.
The Argentina striker then converted a 63rd-minute penalty awarded after Raheem Sterling tumbled in the box following a tug by Javier Manquillo.
But struggling Newcastle scored against the run of play four minutes later when a rare lapse saw Jacob Murphy sprint through and finish in composed fashion.
Aguero, however, put the result beyond doubt when City’s all-time leading goalscorer completed his 11th hat-trick for the club seven minutes from time following a superb run and pass from Leroy Sane.
“We needed it (this win) after last week,” Aguero told BT Sport. “It’s a long season though and we’ve not won anything yet.”
– ‘Didn’t panic’ –
Guardiola added: “We need 10 more wins to be champions…It was important how we reacted at 2-1, we didn’t panic.”
Meanwhile, Arsenal showed there was plenty of life after Alexis Sanchez as they beat Crystal Palace 4-1 without the United-bound Chilean forward.
With Sanchez inching towards a £35 million (39.6 million euros, $48.5 million) transfer to United rather than City, Gunners manager Arsene Wenger left him out of his matchday squad.
Any fears Arsenal might falter up front without him proved groundless as they surged into a 4-0 lead inside 22 minutes at the Emirates Stadium thanks to goals from Nacho Monreal, Alex Iwobi, Laurent Koscielny, Alex Iwobi and Alexandre Lacazette before Luka Milivojevic pulled one back for Palace late on.
Arsenal remain outside the top four but heartened manager Wenger said: “We played our real game in the first half, real pace and real combination.”
– United ‘so close’ to Sanchez –