A thoroughly deserved win for Benitez and the boys tonight, with Ciaran Clark’s header proving to be the difference – although it could and should have been much more than 2-1!
Here’s an assessment of each player’s performance and my marks out of 10:
NUFC XI – (5-2-2-1): Dubravka – Yedlin, Schar, Fernandez, Clark, Ritchie – Diame, Ki – Kenedy, Ritchie – Rondon
Dubravka – 7 – Their opening goal was very well taken, but he was caught a little far off his line. That said, he made a good stop to deny Wood soon after and was strong from crosses.
Yedlin – 8 – Not much came down his side, with Burnley probably aware of the threat he and Kenedy could pose on the break down our right. He and Kenedy combined well at both ends, he could well have won us a penalty and also saved a goal with a superb block.
Schar – 8 – Picked out some brilliant passes and read the play well. Had mixed success in the air, but generally did a good job and looked composed. A few sloppy moments in the second half, but g
Fernandez – 8.5 – Dealt with absolutely everything, constantly helping us clear our lines and playing a big part in our opening goal. A towering performance from the big Argentine.
Clark – 8 – He was used as a left-sided centre-back and slotted in pretty well. Took his goal well with a perfect glancing header, although he was beaten to the ball by Vokes for their first goal. I’ve doubted his capabilities at this level, but he did well tonight.
Ritchie – 8 – His energy were vital in helping keep Lennon and Lowton quiet, with him doing a brilliant job in a unnatural left-wing back role. He may have missed an open goal, but he was instrumental in most of what we did tonight.
Diame – 8 – Did a great job in front of the back four. Broke up the play, made several tackles and interceptions and covered superbly. After a slow start to the season, this was more like the Mo we saw earlier in the year.
Ki – 9 – His ability to keep the ball and stay calm when others couldn’t was so impressive once again tonight. He used the ball brilliantly and set us up on attacks on countless occasions. Very impressive once again. He was outstanding tonight and my man of the match.
Kenedy – 8 – A brilliant effort at both ends of the pitch. He kept the ball much better and showed more maturity – although did blaze over a few speculative efforts from range. Protected Yedlin well and gave us an outlet going forward.
Perez – 7.5 – Was too soft at times, but he was much better than he has been in general this season. Needs to toughen up and have a bit more intensity about his play, however he did play his part – and did superbly to take on a man and put Joselu in behind which could’ve helped wrap up the game and make it 1-3.
Rondon – 7 – It was not the headline grabbing performance he put in two weeks ago, with him looking a little sluggish and rusty at times, however he won plenty flick ons and gave us a focal point up top to help us keep the ball higher up the pitch.
Joselu – 6 – A few nice pieces of hold up play. He played his part, however he should’ve put the game to bed and made it 1-3, with him hitting the post from a one on one.
Hayden – N/A – Only played a few minutes, replacing Kenedy with a few minutes to go.