Newcastle missed the chance to close the gap on relegation rivals Norwich City as they were held to a 1-1 draw with Manchester City at St James’ Park.
Sergio Aguero netted his 100thPremier League goal when he opened the scoring after a quarter of an hour with a dubious header, which appeared to be offside.
The prolific Aguero took his goal tally in England’s top flight to 99 with a hat-trick in Saturday’s comfortable 3-0 win at Chelsea and the Argentinian’s goals have come in just an incredible 147 appearances.
Vurnon Anita deservedly drew Rafa Benitez’s side level shortly after the half hour with his first goal at St James’ Park, a well taken effort inside the box.
Georginio Wijnaldum could have won it late on as Joe Hart – celebrating his 29th birthday – made a stunning save to earn City the point.
The solitary point means Benitez’s side have four points from the last two games, having beaten Swansea at the weekend. City, meanwhile, failed to strengthen their bid for a top-four finish, but they remain four points clear of local rivals Manchester United, who are placed in fifth.
Newcastle fans showed their appreciation for a convincing performance as their men have a glimmer of hope of survival with four games remaining – they face Liverpool, Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and Tottenham.
After a scrappy start to the clash on Tyneside, Aguero made it a century of goals after 14 minutes when he guided Aleksandar Kolarov’s set piece past Karl Darlow. The Argentinian was fortunate not to have his goal chalked off by referee Kevin Friend, as he was in an offside position before the free-kick was taken. But he took it well, meeting the ball – from the left-hand side – at the front post, flicking it into the centre of the goal.
Moussa Sissoko should have put the home side level 15 minutes later when the Frenchman burst through on goal. In a one-on-one situation, Sissoko opened up his body to convert past Hart, but the England goalkeeper read his opponent well to make the save.
Sissoko will have been relieved two minutes later as Anita put Benitez’s side made it 1-1. The Dutchman, playing at right-back, was found in acres of space on the right flank and he turned inside Paul Dummett before striking across goal to reward United for their efforts in the first half.
Aguero should have doubled his tally four minutes into the second half as he turned his man in the box, but he was slow pulling the trigger and he soon went to ground in desperation after losing the ball.
It took a brave header from Pablo Zabaleta to deny substitute Aleksandar Mitrovic as he tried to get on the end of Townsend’s cross after Cheick Tiote and Sissoko launched a lightning break on the hour, but Darlow needed two attempts to collect Aguero’s snapshot as City hit back three minutes later.
As the game headed for the closing stages, Wijnaldum got himself into a great position to win it for Newcastle. On the right of the box, the Dutchman showed great feet to offset his man before firing towards goal, but Hart got a hand to the ball, Wijnaldum firing the rebound into the side netting.