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    City beat Newcastle 3-1 to stay close to United

    Newcastle: Manchester City bounced back from the damaging derby loss to Manchester United with a 3-1 win at struggling Newcastle on Saturday, keeping the champions in touch with their neighbours in the Premier League title race. Goals by Sergio Aguero and Javi Garcia gave City a 2-0 lead at halftime, but Newcastle posed more problems in the second half and halved the deficit through Demba Ba in the 51st minute.

    City, missing injured captain Vincent Kompany, held firm and clinched victory with 12 minutes remaining when Yaya Toure poked home from close range. The win reduced City's deficit to three points to United, who will play Sunderland later Saturday, and ensured there were no lingering after-effects from their first loss of the campaign. Newcastle, who started the day only two points off the relegation zone, have won just once in 11 games since October.

    With top scorer Carlos Tevez restored to the starting lineup in place of Mario Balotelli, who was dropped from the squad completely after his ineffectual display against United, City played some of their best football of the season in the first half. Playmakers David Silva and Samir Nasri were at the center at most of their good work and the latter set up Aguero's opener, running onto an exquisite through-ball from Toure and squaring for the Argentina striker to tap into an empty net for his sixth goal of the campaign.

    Nasri struck a close-range shot against the post in the 20th, but hobbled off with a groin injury eight minutes before halftime after a challenge by Jonas Gutierrez. The momentum remained with City, though, and after Tevez had a shot turned aside by goalkeeper Tim Krul, Garcia headed in the resulting corner from Silva. Davide Santon had a chance to clear on the line but missed the ball with a swing of his right boot.

    It was a different match in the second half, with a fired-up Newcastle taking the game to its opponent and Ba equalizing when he latched onto Fabricio Coloccini's hooked cross and headed past a stranded Joe Hart in goal. Papiss Demba Cisse and Ba were off target with attempts when decently placed. But on a rare foray forward, Pablo Zabaleta crossed from the left for Yaya Toure to slide the ball home, sealing victory on a ground where he scored twice last year.