'It's another big moment in a game that's gone against us' – Eddie Howe reacts to controversial penalty decision after Newcastle United's defeat to Manchester City

Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe blasted the officials for failing to award his side a penalty in the first-half of The Magpies' eventual 4-0 loss to Manchester City.

Ryan Fraser was wiped out by City goalkeeper Ederson and got none of the ball, but despite that, on-field referee Martin Atkinson and VAR both agreed that it was not a penalty.

In the end, the spot-kick being awarded or not did not change the course of match, with goals from Ruben Dias, Joao Cancelo, Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling ensuring Pep Guardiola's side of top spot in the Premier League for Christmas.

"I don't look for excuses or to blame the officials but it's another big moment in a game that's gone against us," said a furious Howe in his post-match press conference.

"The goalkeeper is out of control and wiped Ryan out. It's a stonewall penalty.

"How VAR haven't intervened is a strange one for me."

On the disappointing first goal and 'excellent' City

After just five minutes, the visitors got their noses in front thanks to a defensive calamity from Ciaran Clark, when he ducked under Cancelo's cross – thinking that Martin Dubravka would come and collect the ball – leaving Dias to head home from point blank range.

Howe said: "We were set up and looking forward to the contest.

"They're the one team in the world I don't think you want to chase the game against because they're so good with the ball.

"That [the first goal] was a disappointing moment at that stage."

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Albeit his side were outclassed by their opposition and conceded four with no reply, Howe took some encouragement from his side's showing defensively, before heaping the praise on the league leaders.

"It sounds strange but for the rest of the first-half – bar the second goal which I know you can't take away – I thought our defensive structures were very good and I thought we defended well," said The Magpies boss.

"Second-half they played very, very well and their control of the game was excellent."

Why Shelvey and Manquillo missed out, and update on defensive duo's injuries

Newcastle made five changes from the clash at Anfield in midweek, with two surprising dropouts being Javier Manquillo and Jonjo Shelvey.

Howe explained their absences: "Manquillo was a late drop out due to illness which was a big problem for us.

"Jonjo has played a lot of football in a short space of time having missed a long period.

"We just felt we had to be careful with him for this game. We hope he'll be back soon."

Two players that will miss a large chunk of the next set of fixtures, however, are Jamal Lewis and Federico Fernandez.

"I think they're going to be longer term so we won't expect them back for the foreseeable future," said Howe on the pair.

"Jamal's was a strange one early in the game against Liverpool.

"It was a big blow for us and Fede looks like he'll be around the same length of time."

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Toon support is 'not taken for granted'

Once again, St James' Park was packed to the rafters this afternoon, with 52,000+ in attendance. 

Howe praised the unwavering support for his struggling side: "I just want them to know it's not taken for granted.

"It's not an easy emotion for me because I want to give them success and performances they can be proud of.

"I really do value their support – the players needed that today."

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