An incredible night at St James’ Park, with goals from Salomon Rondon and Matt Ritchie helping us to a monumental win over Man City.
Here’s an assessment of each player’s performance and my marks out of 10:
NUFC XI – (5-4-1): Dubravka (7) – Yedlin (7.5), Schar (8), Lascelles (8), Lejeune (8), Ritchie (8) – Perez (8), Hayden (8) , Longstaff (9), Atsu (7) – Rondon (9*).
Dubravka – 7 – Stormed out into no mans land in the moments before Aguero’s tap in, but made up for that with a brilliant save to deny David Silva later on. He flapped at the odd cross, but his kicking up to Rondon was solid and he was quick off his line.
Yedlin – 7.5 – Stood up to the task impressively against Sane; who barely had any meaningful impact in key areas. Didn’t get forward quite as effectively as he did against Cardiff (which is to be expected) and made an awful pass back to Lascelles that nearly cost us, but he stuck to his task brilliantly from a defensive perspective.
Schar – 8 – He showed how good he was going forward in the 3-0 win over Cardiff, but tonight he was absolutely HUGE at the back for us. Made six tackles, six clearances and three interceptions, read the play excellently and made a goal saving block to deny Silva from making it 0-2 in the first half. What a signing he looks to be at just over £3m!
Lascelles – 8 – Solid as a rock once again, with him continuing to look MUCH more comfortable now Lejeune’s back. He kept Aguero very quiet after his early goal, did brilliantly to ease Sane off the ball as he closed in on goal and barked out orders all night as he kept us organised as the back.
Lejeune – 8 – Came across on the cover to help Ritchie out on several occasions and made a few vital headed clearance in the first half to take it off a Man City head following a dangerous cross. Another strong performance from the Frenchman, who looks like he’s never been away despite a horrific ACL injury just a few months ago.
Ritchie – 8 – A bundle of energy, playing with such intensity – whether it was to link up with Atsu going forward or tracking back to stop Sterling at the other end. He was caught a little too high up the pitch early on for their goal, leaving Lejeune isolated against Sterling, but he made up for that late on, smashing the winner past Ederson from the penalty spot.
Atsu – 7 – Ran into trouble a few too many times in the first half, but his pace and energy gave us a real outlet in attack. His final ball wasn’t always there, with him appearing to lack belief at times despite his pace having the potential to unsettle defences, but he never stopped running and looked bright from start to finish.
Hayden – 8 – Didn’t get on the ball a great deal but was rock solid off it, putting in a huge shift for the team and pressing throughout. Also won several loose balls – one being a header that ended up setting up Rondon’s goal – showing he still has plenty desire despite him pushing to leave the club for personal reasons. If this is his last game for the club, he went out on a high.
Longstaff – 9 – He was up against a world class midfield trio in De Bruyne, Fernandinho and David Silva, yet he didn’t look remotely phased. He was calm and measured on the ball, nearly always looked to play if forward, however it was his discipline and desire off the ball that was equally impressive. Guardiola admitted after the game that they ‘could not deal with Newcastle’s holding midfielders’ – and that in itself tells you everything you need to know about the job Longstaff did alongside Hayden. Also played a huge part in our winner, pressing Fernandinho on his blind side and being tripped in the box just as he dispossessed him. Hugely impressive once again from the local lad.
Perez – 8 – Put in a huge shift up and down our right-hand side, getting back to help out Yedlin and springing forward whenever he could to support Rondon in attack. Linked up nicely and carried the ball well, with him also putting himself about late on – getting his body in between player and ball so effectively late on. Great shift.
Rondon – 9* – He was an absolute monster from start to finish. Man City defenders could not cope with his power, with his flick ons, hold up play and all round presence up top being absolutely essential in everything we did well from an attacking perspective. Linked up brilliantly with Perez at times and took his goal very well – his 7th goal in 16 starts this season. As good as Longstaff was, the big Venezuelan is my man of the match here.
Kenedy – N/A – Played little over 5 minutes but kept it simple and worked hard for the short time he was on the pitch.
Manquillo – N/A – Came on in extra time for Perez to help protect our lead.