Manchester City crushes Newcastle
Though City appear likely to relinquish their title to local rivals United, who are 15 points clear at the top, the reigning champions want to finish the season with a flourish and proved too strong for Newcastle once Carlos Tevez had made the breakthrough on 41 minutes.
David Silva added another before the interval and further goals from returning captain Vincent Kompany and a James Perch own goal after he deflected Yaya Toure's cross were just reward for City's dominance.
The first half had reached the midway point before anything noteworthy happened when a rare foray forward by Newcastle ended with Papiss Cisse striking the post from a narrow angle following a fine pass by Vurnon Anita.
City responded immediately and should have taken the lead, only for Gareth Barry to side-foot over from close range after Edin Dzeko's shot had been blocked by Newcastle keeper Rob Elliot.
The hosts were in control of the game and Gael Clichy's well-struck effort was beaten out by Elliot, who was spoken to by referee Neil Swarbrick on 36 minutes for timewasting.
Tevez and Barry combined well on the edge of the box to play in Silva on 38 minutes, but he swept home from an offside position before City deservedly went ahead four minutes before half-time.
Silva was in the thick of things again as he released Clichy on the left and the full-back's teasing low cross was forced home at the far post by Tevez.
Elliot then produced a superb fingertip save to deny Dzeko, but the Newcastle keeper was beaten again in stoppage-time by Silva's drilled shot following a jinking run by Samir Nasri.
Newcastle returned for the second half with a much more positive approach and were almost rewarded within three minutes after Yohan Cabaye flashed a shot wide following a clever pass by Moussa Sissoko.
The Magpies' momentum was checked, though, on 56 minutes by a third City goal as Kompany's flick, from Barry's deflected shot, nicked Danny Simpson on its way past a helpless Elliot.
Things got worse for Newcastle on 69 minutes when Toure muscled his way into the box, and his attempted cross deflected off half-time substitute James Perch and flew beyond Elliot.
City keeper Joe Hart made a comfortable low save from Dan Gosling before his opposite number Elliot produced a flying stop to deny substitute Scott Sinclair as the home side tightened their grip on second spot with the minimum of fuss.
Speaking after the match, Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini challenged his players to reproduce their performance against Newcastle in every remaining match this season.
He said: "If we play like this, we play very well. We have another eight games, and an FA Cup semifinal, and we need to continue playing like today."
"We want to try (to win every game), but we wanted this also two months ago. The Premier League is difficult and it is important that we don't lose players to injury for the next two months."
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew was impressed by Manchester City but admitted that his players had not helped their own cause with a below-par display.
"They were very relaxed and that is very dangerous when you have great players like they have, playing without any fear," said Pardew.
"Having said that, in the first half we didn't put enough pressure on them or technically keep the ball as well as we have done in previous games."
The Associated Press was used in this report.