A brilliant win on what could be Rafa Benitez’s penultimate home game as Newcastle manager, with hat-trick hero Ayoze Perez putting in another stunning performance at St James’ Park.
I had two thoughts before the game. Will we A) play with the shackles off after the big win at Leicester and put in a big effort in what could be Benitez’s penultimate home game at St James’ Park or B) have one eye on the beach and become complacent after the last week’s victory all but ended our fears of going down. Fortunately, it was the former that came true!
We were absolutely excellent in the first half, controlling the game, winning every first and second ball and making the most of our dominance with two well deserved goals – something we couldn’t do in the devastating 0-1 defeat against Palace in our last home game.
The win not only secures survival (although any relegation fears were all but over after our win at Leicester), but takes us up to 12th, with us leapfrogging Bournemouth and being just two points behind West Ham.
Perez was phenomenal. Not only did he show brilliant attacking instincts to score his first Premier League hat-trick, his all round play was outstanding, showing some incredible footwork, retaining possession impressively in tight areas and linking the play expertly.
Here’s all three of his goals today:
Honourable mentions must also go out to Dummett; who bailed us out at the back several times and Hayden; who was monstrous in the middle once again, while Ritchie and Almiron’s work rate was infectious once again, helping us get on the front foot immediately and setting the tone for what was another big win at St James’ Park.
Here’s how the bottom half of the table looks after today’s result:
Elsewhere today, Bournemouth lost at home against Fulham, Watford swept Huddersfield aside and West Ham were held to a 2-2 draw against Leicester – with us just two points behind the Hammers as a result.
Just THREE games left for us now, with an intriguing home clash against title-chasing Liverpool sandwiched between two winnable away trips to Brighton and Fulham:
- Brighton (A)
- Liverpool (H)
- Fulham (A)
Wor Flags also played their part today, with this fantastic display in the Gallowgate reading “Things aren’t always black and white – United as One against prejudice.”
A brilliant effort today and another well deserved win at St James’ Park – our sixth home win in our last seven in the league!