Our performance of the season on the South Coast, with goals from Gayle, S Longstaff, Almiron and Lazaro helping us to a brilliant 4-1 win away at Bournemouth.
Here’s an assessment of each player’s performance along with my mark out of 10:
Dubravka – 6 – Almost found himself in no mans land for an early chance Solanke spooned over, but got away with it. Some may feel he put him off, but it wouldn’t have looked great if he’d scored! Was beaten by a David Brooks shot that hit the crossbar in the second half, but barely had a save to make before Bournemouth’s late consolation strike 94 minutes in, so it’s hard to give him more than a 6!
Krafth – 7.5 – A very solid display from the forgotten Swede. Made some good forward runs and looked sharp on the ball, linking up nicely with Saint-Maximin down our right early on. Was rarely beaten in 1-on-1’s and defended solidly – even if he did let Gosling ghost in ahead of him for Bournemouth’s late goal. Given how long he’s gone without a game, he did superbly tonight.
Lascelles – 8 – An absolute colossus in the air, batting away several dangerous Bournemouth balls into the box with his head and making a brilliant habit of getting himself in the right place at the right time. Soldiered on after falling awkwardly on his shoulder and was our rock at the back – not for the first time this season.
Fernandez – 7 – Didn’t have a great deal to do, but he mopped up well, was no nonsense and took a few whacks to help keep Bournemouth out before their 94th minute goal. A steady showing from the experienced Argentine who kept Josh King quiet.
Manquillo – 7 – Showed his versatility to slot in at left-back today, allowing Danny Rose to have a rest. Had his hands full at times vs Brooks, who was their most lively player, but did a very decent job defensively and got forward well to support Joelinton in attack.
Bentaleb – 8 – Looked calm and composed in a holding role, protecting both the ball and our back four effectively. His solid showing from deep also allowed Shelvey a bit more license to get forward and create, with the pair combining well to win the midfield battle convincingly. Won the ball back well a few times, was slick on the ball and showed his quality throughout, completing 90% of his passes. A much needed performance after a few rusty displays! Keep that up and the Schalke loanee could be a steal at £8.5m.
Shelvey – 8.5 – A top class display. He looked in the mood from start to finish and pulled the strings, pinging one exquisite pass out to Saint-Maximin early on. Had a decent low shot in the first half and almost set up Gayle in the second with a lovely curled pass from out wide. Then capped off a brilliant display with a perfectly weighted pass to set up Lazaro’s goal. Showed his class throughout, created several openings and combined well with Bentaleb in the middle.
Saint-Maximin – 9 – A hat-trick of assists (something only TWO other Newcastle players have ever done in one game) and another man of the match display, although there were plenty contenders tonight! Made a surprise start after Bruce stated on Tuesday he’d been “extremely tired” after the Man City game, but his impact was immediate, with it being his pass that set up Gayle early on. A simple ball, but another influential contribution nonetheless. Moments later he then bagged himself another assist, only this time it came from a stunning piece of wing play and brilliant cut-back for Sean Longstaff. To top it off, he then set up Almiron’s goal in the second half with a lovely ball in field. He ran rings around players in red and black throughout, with them unable to handle his stunning blend of speed, power, skill and smart passing. It seemed a risk for Bruce to start him, but it paid off! What a player.
S Longstaff – 8 – Played in a very advanced role, just behind Dwight Gayle, and played a huge part in our opening 2 goals. Ran his heart out in the opening stages to close down a shaky Bournemouth back line, and his pressing proved to be pivotal for Gayle’s early strike, with him forcing Lerma into a big error on the edge of his box. Looked more confident in a more attacking birth after a poor display against City on Sunday and grabbed a goal of his own on the half hour mark, smashing ASM’s cut-back into the roof of the net. A real shame to see him forced off early with a muscle injury, but he was outstanding in the first half.
Joelinton – 7 – Looked much more comfortable in a supporting role, with his power and movement causing Smith plenty problems down our left early on. Faded a little in the second half and wasted the odd decent opening, but he won lots in the air, looked more confident on the ball and was a handful for most of it. More proof he’s more of an inside forward than an out and out striker?
Gayle – 7.5 – A big night for the striker after his even bigger miss on Sunday, and he reacted brilliantly with a clinical finish to give us a 1-0 lead within 5 minutes. He looked sharp throughout, he pressed well and his movement caused problems, with him almost latching onto a few dangerous ball in behind. His second goal since football returned and a welcome confidence boost after the sitter he skied against City!
Almiron – 8 – Got an unexpected hour of football after Sean Longstaff was forced off early on. Was a live wire throughout, running at the Bournemouth defence and using his pace and energy to good effect, and bagged his 7th of the season with a brilliant burst and composed finish with his weak right foot.
Carroll – 7 – His awkward style sometimes made some of our slick play look a bit more messy, but he held up the ball well, forced Ramsdale into a good save and flung himself about in typical Carroll style!
Lazaro – 8 – Showed his class in a brilliant 30-minute cameo from the bench. Finished superbly after making a brilliant run in behind, smashed the crossbar minutes later with a stunning strike from range and chased every ball too. Looked like a player with a point to prove, and he did just that!
Yedlin – 6 – Filled in at left-back after Manquillo came off with 20 minutes to play. Will have been frusrated not to start after Bruce rotated, but did a decent enough job when he cam on.
Hayden – 6 – A bad miss after latching onto Lazaro’s shot that came back off the bar, but was combative in midfield and helped us cruise to a convincing win.