Craig Bellamy marked his Manchester City debut with the winning goal against former club Newcastle as Mark Hughes's team eased their relegation fears with a 2-1 victory. The Welshman, making his first appearance for City since his ten-million-pound arrival from West Ham last week, sealed the points for his new team thirteen minutes from full-time with a twenty-yard strike from Pablo Zabaleta's cross.
Andy Carroll's close range strike for Newcastle four minutes later ensured a nervous finish for the home side, but City were able to hold out for the victory that lifts them into the top half of the English Premier League table.
With Newcastle manager Joe Kinnear resigned to losing goalkeeper Shay Given to City in a ten-million-pound transfer, the Ireland number-one was omitted from the squad for this game, with understudy Steve Harper replacing his Eastlands-bound team-mate. Given's imminent arrival will be another example of City flexing their huge financial muscle during the January transfer window.
Kaka may have opted against a switch from AC Milan to the blue half of Manchester, but Wayne Bridge, Craig Bellamy and Nigel de Jong have all been shipped in. Both Bellamy and De Jong made their debuts against Kinnear's strugglers.
Brazilian forward Robinho was also named in the starting line-up. The former Real Madrid star started brightly and saw two strikes on goal fly narrowly over the crossbar before he produced a piece of magic to tee up Shaun Wright-Phillips for City's opener on 17 minutes. Robinho's awareness enabled him to receive Bridge's cross and lay the ball off to Wright-Phillips, leaving the former Chelsea midfielder with the simple task of beating Harper from six yards.
Seconds later, Newcastle lost captain Michael Owen to injury after the England striker landed awkwardly on his ankle. The visitors had packed little punch before Owen exited the action and his departure further blunted their cutting edge, with only the inexperienced youngster Carroll left to lead the front line.
But while City looked a much-improved team with the additions of Bridge, De Jong and Bellamy, they equally lacked the attacking thrust required to put the game beyond Newcastle. Robinho, whose performance belied any off-field worries about police questioning in an alleged sexual assualt case, was unfortunate not to extend City's lead on 54 minutes when his left-foot shot was saved at the near post by Harper.
City continued to look the likeliest team to add to the scoring, however, especially when Newcastle lost former City midfielder Joey Barton to a foot injury midway through the second-half. But Hughes's team were almost caught on the counter-attack on 69 minutes when Damien Duff broke to the byline before crossing for Danish forward Peter Lovenkrands at the far post.
The former Rangers striker was unmarked as he waited for the ball to arrive at his feet, but Argentinian defender Zabaleta produced a crucial interception. Bellamy's goal then eased City's nerves before Carroll teed up a tense finish.