NEWCASTLE – Pep Guardiola said Newcastle are now one of the Premier League’s toughest tests after Manchester City were forced to come from 3-1 down to salvage a 3-3 draw from an enthralling encounter on Sunday.
The Magpies have not splashed the cash of the Saudi sovereign wealth fund to the extent expected in the transfer window, but had the champions on the ropes through goals from Miguel Almiron, Callum Wilson and Kieran Trippier.
Erling Haaland sparked City’s fightback before Bernardo Silva secured a point.
City move up to second, two points adrift of Arsenal, but missed the chance to open up a seven-point advantage on Liverpool ahead of their trip to Manchester United on Monday.
Guardiola, though, was happy to salvage a point from St. James’ Park.
“Newcastle are becoming one of the toughest opponents for sure,” said Guardiola.
“Leeds beat Chelsea today. The Premier League is so difficult for everyone. You have to live this experience to know how amazing we’ve done for five years and how difficult it will be.
“To see the team fight to the end is enough.”
Newcastle had taken four points from their opening two games without conceding a goal.
That record was wiped out within five minutes as City quickly took control.
Silva was recalled to Guardiola’s starting line-up for the first time in the Premier League this season with the midfielder linked with a move to Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain.
The Portuguese international made an immediate impact as his cross was controlled and finished by Ilkay Gundogan.
But Newcastle’s intensity and energy soon swarmed over City with the pace of Allan Saint-Maximin causing havoc.
“It was an incredible game and a rollercoaster of emotions,” said Newcastle boss Eddie Howe.
“We went 1-0 down which is the worst possible start against this team because then you have to chase the game but I think the players responded brilliantly.
“For the neutral, I’m sure it was an incredible game but we needed something from the game and the players deserved it.”
Newcastle’s pressure got its reward on 28 minutes and it was a sweet moment for Almiron, who was mocked by Jack Grealish during City’s title celebrations at the end of last season.
The Paraguayan’s finish was unorthodox as Saint-Maximin’s cross came off his thigh to leave Ederson with no chance.
Saint-Maximin was the creator again as Newcastle turned the game around before half-time as Wilson latched onto his pass and prodded beyond Ederson.
Haaland had been kept quiet before the break but exploded into life with the smallest glimpse of an opportunity in the second half and came within inches of an equaliser as his fierce low shot was turned onto the post by Pope.
Moments later, City looked destined for a first Premier League defeat since February when Trippier curled a brilliant free-kick into the top corner after John Stones resorted to hauling down Saint-Maximin on the edge of the box.
Haaland’s predatory instincts were on full show as he started the comeback by firing into the roof of the net when Rodri knocked a set-piece back across goal.
The Norwegian then showed the other side to his game as his electric pace burst onto De Bruyne’s through ball and forced Pope to come flying off this line to block.
De Bruyne’s next defence-splitting pass did lead to the equaliser as Silva produced a composed finish to level at 3-3.
The drama did not end there, even if the scoring did, as Trippier had a straight red card for a late lunge on De Bruyne reduced to a yellow after a VAR review.
But City failed to turn their momentum into a winner in the closing stages as they blinked for the first time in their title defence.