MANCHESTER: Manchester City showed the mentality of champions, said Pep Guardiola after his team laid down an early-season marker in the Premier League title race by beating Newcastle 1-0 on Saturday.

Julian Alvarez’s stunning strike secured a club record 17th consecutive home victory for the treble winners despite their exertions in lifting the UEFA Super Cup in midweek.

Guardiola was furious at the Premier League for scheduling the game just three days after his side were forced to penalties to beat Sevilla under baking heat in Athens.

City’s squad has also been stretched early on in the campaign by the absence of Bernardo Silva and John Stones, while Kevin De Bruyne will be out for up to four months with a hamstring injury.

But on this evidence, Guardiola’s men will still take some stopping in their quest to become the first side to ever win four consecutive English top-flight titles.

“It is the second game of the season, but it is proof of the reason why we won a lot,” said Guardiola.

“The mindset and mentality of this group of players amaze me every time.”

Newcastle’s 5-1 thrashing of Aston Villa last weekend had raised hopes on Tyneside they could be the pick of the challengers to City’s crown as English champions.

But dreams the Saudi-backed Magpies could pose a challenge for their first top-flight league title in 97 years were dampened by City’s dominance before tiredness crept in late on.

“It’s a reminder we’ve got work to do, but I was under no illusions that was the case,” said Newcastle boss Eddie Howe.

“I think we can play a lot better than that. There are always reasons, it’s difficult to say (why). There are two teams and your team have to react to the conditions you are playing against.”

Alvarez could be one of the benefactors of De Bruyne’s lengthy lay-off.

The Argentine scored 17 goals in his debut season in Manchester despite having to play largely second fiddle to Erling Haaland.

Guardiola may now be forced to pair Alvarez with the Norwegian more often and he showed what he is capable of with a superb finish into the top corner from Phil Foden’s pass on 31 minutes.

Only a rare night off for Haaland in front of goal then prevented City’s dominance showing in the scoreline.

Last season’s Golden Boot winner dragged his first big chance wide when played in by another Foden through ball.

Newcastle’s more attacking intent in the second half only succeeded in leaving City more space to exploit in behind.

Foden stepped up in the absence of De Bruyne and Silva to be the creative spark in the City midfield.

The England international’s turn and pass picked out Haaland once more on his favoured left foot only for him to again fail to hit the target.

Haaland went for raw power with his next effort but was repelled by the legs of Nick Pope as City failed to get the second goal to kill the game off.

The European champions were nearly made to pay when Rodri’s slack pass presented Callum Wilson with a huge opportunity.

But 90-million-euro ($99 million) defender Josko Gvardiol showed his worth on his home debut to hold up Wilson and Harvey Barnes’ shot was comfortably held by Ederson.


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