NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, England -- Manchester City's title hopes suffered a major blow with a shock 2-1 defeat at Newcastle United. Sergio Aguero put the Premier League champions ahead after just 24 seconds but a Salomon Rondon goal and Matt Ritchie penalty stunned the visitors.
City's imposing midfield trio of Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva and Fernandinho started together for just the second time this season -- and the first in the Premier League. Bernardo Silva has been one of the champions' most impressive players but the three that started against Newcastle were the fulcrum of the side that set a record-breaking title pace last season.
City's title hopes are hanging by a thread after another shock defeat to a bottom-half of the table side. Guardiola's side will fall seven points behind Liverpool Jurgen Klopp's side if Liverpool win on Wednesday night against Leicester. What's strange is that City's title challenge has been thrown off course by seemingly inferior sides when they have coped so well against their top-six rivals but the champions were lethargic and sloppy, lacking the killer instinct of their record-breaking title season.
Manager rating out of 10
5 -- Pep Guardiola didn't make any changes at half-time when City needed refreshing after a lackadaisical first half. He always wants his side to push forward to get goals but they caused the home side few problems after their first-minute tally. Riyad Mahrez will have been champing at the bit to make a difference but stayed on the bench.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes receive no rating)
GK Ederson, 6 -- Couldn't keep out Rondon's bouncing overhead kick and Ritchie's fierce penalty slid underneath him.
DF Kyle Walker, 6 -- Solid defensively but didn't get forward as much as he normally does.
DF John Stones, 6 -- Had a tough time against the physicality of Rondon, who grabbed the equaliser.
DF Aymeric Laporte, 5 -- His passing game wasn't quite what it usually is. He gave the ball away on a couple of occasions and put Fernandinho in trouble for the penalty.
DF Danilo, 5 -- Has settled well at left-back but had his toughest night in a while and was caught out of position on a couple of occasions.
MF Fernandinho, 6 -- Strong performance until he was caught in possession horribly in the box before giving away a penalty.
MF Kevin De Bruyne, 7 -- All over the pitch, unlocking the Newcastle defence. A clever free kick should have led to a second for Aguero, but instead referee Paul Tierney booked him for taking it too quickly.
MF David Silva, 7 -- Unlucky not to score with a header that was blocked on the line. Kept City ticking over but a couple of times his touch was unusually heavy.
FW Raheem Sterling, 5 -- Found it tough against tough-tackling Ritchie, who also forced him to defend and caused problems with his crossing.
FW Sergio Aguero, 7 -- Loves facing Newcastle and took just 24 seconds to get his latest goal taking his record to 15 goals in 13 games vs. the Magpies. Worked hard, winning a couple of tackles in his own half.
FW Leroy Sane, 6 -- Lively going forward and could have had a couple of assists on another night.
MF Bernardo Silva, 6 -- Unable to change the tempo of the game.
FW Gabriel Jesus, N/R -- Couldn't find a way through.
MF Ilkay Gundogan N/R -- Little impact.