Full-time: Newcastle United 0 Manchester City 2

ACTIVE or inactive? It's an old debate which resurfaced once more at St James' Park as Newcastle United slipped to a fourth consecutive defeat for the first time in more than a year.

There was nothing wrong with the early goal which Manchester City struck in the eighth minute when Edin Dzeko turned in a lovely 15th goal of the season to suggest a difficult afternoon for the Magpies lie ahead.

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Nor was there anything wrong with City's second which sealed the points in stoppage time when Alvaro Negredo broke away to break Tyneside hearts as Newcastle searched desperately for an equaliser.

An equaliser, though, was exactly what everyone in St James' thought Cheik Tiote had delivered at the height of Newcastle's pressure on Joe Hart's goal in and around the half hour mark.

Offside looked the furthest thing from Tiote's mind when he turned away to celebrate what would have been his first goal in approaching three years.

But referee Mike Jones listened to the claims from Hart and the City defence before a quick briefing with his assistant Stephen Child, who had kept his flag down originally, decided it should not count.

Yoan Gouffran, Mike Williamson and Steven Taylor were all beyond a blue shirt when Tiote's thunderbolt flew towards goal. None of them, particularly Gouffran who was the closest to Hart, blocked the Manchester City goalkeeper's sight or movement.

In years gone by such a position on the pitch would have demanded a whistle for offside, but Jones would have been within his right to allow the goal and deemed that Gouffran was not in an active position.

The Frenchman actually moved his body out of the way of the ball because he wanted not to be seen to interfere, yet Jones still cancelled out the goal and Newcastle still trailed.

After that the Magpies battled away for another and could easily have earned a point against a team which has now scored a staggering 94 goals in 32 matches this season.

Newcastle's wait for the net to bulge goes on. It is now 280 minutes since Alan Pardew's team last scored in the Premier League and this latest defeat leaves them eight points off the top five.

The Northern Echo:
Alvaro Negredo prepares to slot home Manchester City's late second goal

Had Tiote's goal counted, Newcastle would have gone in to the half-time break level – and rightly so after a spirited revival after falling behind.

Newcastle, who had lost their previous three games going in to the fixture and had lost nine in a row to City, also started the afternoon brightly without testing Hart.

Despite the frustration of being knocked out of the FA Cup by Cardiff City eight days earlier, Newcastle were enterprising and threatening in possession and looked capable of causing the big spending visitors problems throughout.

Yet City, effectively playing with four in attack whenever they broke forward, counter attacked seamlessly and it was one of their earliest breaks which earned the crucial advantage inside eight minutes.

David Silva's splitting pass between Gouffran and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa was weighted perfectly for Aleksandar Kolarov. The Croatian left-back overlapped a slow-starting Gouffran to drive in a delivery for Dzeko to turn powerfully beyond Tim Krul at his near post.

That was one of the few occasions in the opening hour when Taylor, starting his first Premier League game since his sending off at the Etihad in August, and Williamson's defence was breached.

The other two occasions, one in each half, saw striker Negredo go close with a couple of decent headers. The first was a header from Silva's cross on to the roof of the net, while the second after half-time brought an incredible point blank save out of Krul.

Before that save from Newcastle's Dutch shot-stopper, the whole of St James' Park had erupted for the moment just after half an hour when the men from Tyneside had every right to be furious at the decision to disallow an equaliser.

The incident stemmed from a corner earned when Yohan Cabaye's back post drive was tipped behind for a corner by Hart after a free-flowing move across the pitch involving Davide Santon, Moussa Sissoko and Yanga-Mbiwa.

Cabaye ran over to the flag and sent in his delivery, which was cleared in the direction of the lurking Tiote on the edge of the area. The Ivorian, who has not scored for the club since his stunning equaliser in the 4-4 thriller with Arsenal almost three years ago, opted to volley and it flew straight through a crowded area before rippling the net.

As he turned away and jumped in to the Newcastle bench to celebrate, Hart's appeals for offside were being discussed between referee Jones and his assistant Child. The chat did not last long, the latter's flag went up and the leveller had been ruled out.

Jones had made his decision and fury engulfed St James'. For the remaining 12 minutes of the first half there were a number of strange decisions, four bookings dished out as the official looked as if he could lose control.

Pardew and City counterpart Manuel Pellegrini rowed on the touchline and then after the whistle both the Newcastle boss and his centre-back Taylor directed their anger towards Jones.

Nothing could alter the decision, however, and Newcastle started the second half a goal down despite a performance which deserved more than to be behind.

Krul had to make that fine save from Negredo's diving header nine minutes after the restart, but Newcastle's encouraging display continued deep in to the second half.

Hart had already made a fine stop to deny Cabaye from distance before he made an outstanding stop to prevent Loic Remy from scoring. Remy ought to have found the net.

After Krul had made another stop from close range to deny Negredo and Kompany had headed against the Newcastle bar, the men in black and white pushed on to try to salvage something from somewhere.

The Northern Echo:
Manchester City celebrate Edin Dzeko's eighth-minute opener

But after Kolarov had made a quite brilliant last-ditch block tackle to deny Taylor at the death, City counter-attacked once more to finish things off.

This time James Milner, the former Newcastle midfielder, played Negredo through on goal. The former Sevilla man was initially denied by Krul but the rebound bounced off him and towards goal where he tapped in.

The scoreline was harsh on Newcastle and the sight of assistant John Carver accompanying Jones and his assistants down the tunnel after the final whistle summed things up.