Just three days after being crowned Premier League champions for a fifth time, you could forgive Manchester City for still being in celebratory mode heading into this one.
It wasn’t a surprised when the team was announced, and Pep Guardiola had ringed in the changes for the Citizens who had only lost once in the league to Newcastle United since 2005.
There was even a debut for third choice veteran goalkeeper Scott Carson, who was making his first appearance in the Premier League for ten years, which was coincidently also against Newcastle with him also conceded three goals.
Despite the changes, can you really say that a second-string City side would not be good enough to beat Newcastle? The way the Sky Blues started the game you would think not, however, Newcastle still managed to create chances and it was a goal from Jonjo Shelvey that saw them take the lead.
City needed to take their opportunities and before half-time they did just that with two goals in quick succession from İlkay Gündoğan and Ferrán Torres.
As it looked like they would take a lead heading into the break, there was a shout for a penalty from Joelinton and after a long VAR review it was eventually given and converted.
Deep into the second half a poor challenge from Kyle Walker saw another penalty conceded, this time Joe Willock slotted home from the rebound and the Toon were back in front.
But not for long, two more goals in two minuites from Torres completed his hat-trick and made sure City took all three points.
He arrived in East Manchester last year for just over £20Million. What a bargain. The 21-year-old winger has years ahead of him, and on Friday staked his case for involvement in the big final in a couple of weeks.
It isn’t easy arriving in a brand-new country at such a young age, let alone in the middle of a pandemic. He has adapted expertly, and when picked, continued to show just why he attracted interest when playing for Valencia.
Yes, there is still a long way to go before he can be considered up there with the best, but he is showing signs, and what better place to learn than at the best team in Europe right now.
His first goal was magical, connecting with Gündoğans free kick, with his back to goal, he majestically directed the cross with the outside of his foot beyond the reach of Martin Dubravka.
His second goal came with a half volley followed by his third on the full volley, Surely Guardiola has to give him some minutes in the Champions League Final now.
Bigger games ahead
Following their crowning as champions on Tuesday, it was inevitable that Pep was going to rest players. It’s likely it would have been a much more uneven contest had City gone full strength, but it provided opportunity for squad players to stake a claim ahead of quite possibly the biggest few weeks in the club’s history.
A week on Sunday sees a welcome return for fans at the Etihad on the final day against Everton, and the team will want to put on a show for the crowd thanking them for their continued support during a tough 12 months.
Then there’s the highly anticipated European final, which will now be played in Porto following a venue change to make it easier for English fans to attend. City have a decent record at the ground having never lost a game there, whilst Chelsea came through a quarter final tie this year against the Portuguese side.
Recent form goes in favour of Chelsea, but anything can happen in a final, and City’s brilliance at overcoming last year’s runner ups Paris Saint Germain, as well as a strong Borussia Dortmund side, makes up for that. If the last few encounters between the two sides are anything to go by, it will be a memorable final.