CALAMITOUS Newcastle defending gifted Manchester City an early opener at St James’ Park.

Toon centre-back Ciaran Clark ducked under a knock-back from flying City right-back Joao Cancelo.

The 32-year-old clearly expected keeper Martin Dubravka to pounce on the floated ball across the face of goal.

But a communication breakdown at the back allowed City skipper Ruben Dias to nod home from close range – after just four minutes.

Magpies fans reacted with despair at the defending on show as Eddie Howe’s men welcomed the Premier League leaders.

One fan wrote on Twitter: “Just seen the goal f***ing hell Clark man. Need defenders in Jan.”

Another replied: “Obviously more to it than that. Someone definitely shouted to leave it, probably the keeper.”

A third wrote: “Eddie Howe is well out his depth here! Careful what you wish for football fans, Steve Bruce was not perfect, but he was one of your own and if you had shown him some love he would have saved you this season!”

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Newcastle are desperately struggling to escape the relegation zone and the last thing needed was the arrival of Pep Guardiola’s high-flying Citizens.

The reigning champions are a point clear of second-placed Liverpool, who play Tottenham in Sunday’s late kick-off in North London.

And City added a second soon after Dias’ opener when Cancelo went from provider to scorer on 28 minutes.

The Portugal star skipped past one defender before smashing a rocket of a shot past the helpless Dubravka to score on his 100th appearance for the club.

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