It was a relegation six-pointer at the bottom, but we came out on top in emphatic fashion – with two goals from Schar and one from Perez giving us a well deserved win at St James’ Park.
Here’s an assessment of each player’s performance and my marks out of 10:
NUFC XI – (3-4-2-1): Dubravka (7) – Schar (10*), Lascelles (7.5), Lejeune (8) – Yedlin (8), Hayden (7.5) , Longstaff (7), Ritchie (7) – Perez (8) , Atsu (7) – Rondon (9).
Dubravka – 7 – Barely had a save to make, but was always quick off his line and a reliable pair of hands whenever Cardiff put the ball into the box anywhere near him. His 7th clean sheet of the league season.
Schar – 10* – The star of the show for Newcastle – and not for the first time this week! He scored BOTH goals – one being from a sublime Ben Arfa-esque run from the back – but also defended superbly, cutting out a cross that looked set to be tapped in at the back post by Paterson. Not only that, his range of passing from the back was there for all to see once again, with him playing some lovely balls to set up attacks in the second half in particular. Absolutely brilliant.
Lascelles – 7.5– Solid. He didn’t look right a few weeks ago, but he’s looked far more settled following the return of Lejeune. Won just about everything in the air, made several key clearances and it was his initial header that set up Schar’s second to give us a two goal lead.
Lejeune – 8 – Another classy display from the big Frenchman, with him also standing up to the physical test very well with several big wins in the air. Made several superbly timed challenges in the box and looked safe as houses all afternoon whenever Cardiff tried to get down our left-hand side. Great to have him back.
Yedlin – 8 – Gave us a brilliant outlet down our right hand side, with him terrorising the Cardiff defence in the second half with countless bursts on the overlap. Got some good balls into the box and defended well. Effective at both ends today which is great to see.
Hayden – 7.5 – He’s taken stick over the past few months and has often looked a shadow of the player we saw soon after he arrived two summers ago, but he did a great job today in the ‘Diame role’. Won several challenges, kept the ball moving better than he has done in the past, won plenty in the air and protected our defence well.
Longstaff – 7 – Gave the ball away a few times but set the tempo for us nicely and was never afraid to try things; whether it be a long shot or an adventurous pass to set up attacks. Battled until the end, putting his body on the line and running himself into the ground.
Ritchie – 7 – Industrious and high energy as ever, never giving up on a single ball all afternoon despite him appearing to be carrying a knock for a large portion of the game. Put in a great delivery from a corner to set up Schar’s second and tried to get us going at any opportunity.
Perez – 8 – He was in the mood today. Used the ball much better, playing several lovely first time passes to set Yedlin away down the right and grabbing a well deserved goal late on. Gave us a link between midfield and attack and got better as the game went on.
Atsu – 7 – Looks like he was holding back at times in the first half; which is so frustrating given the pace he possesses, but he came alive at times in the second half and was dangerous on the counter.
Rondon – 9 – The big man was absolutely brilliant once again today. His hold up play is invaluable, constantly giving us a platform to build on in attack. He won his physical battle against several big Cardiff centre-backs, chased every ball and played a huge part in Perez’s late goal to make it 3.
Manquillo – N/A – Came on late for Ritchie at LWB.