After Sunderland had demolished Norwich 3-0 in the early game yesterday, Newcastle followed suit with a fantastic 3-0 win against Swansea at St. James’ Park to keep our hopes alive that we may still be able to avoid relegation – although that still looks to be very tough.
But it was our first win since February 6th when we won at home 1-0 against West Brom and today Andros Townsend again put in another great display for Newcastle, but there were other good performances too including one from 22 year-old Jamaal Lascelles who was very good in central defense today.
This lad is quickly becoming a leader on Tyneside.
Moussa Sissoko after scoring first goal of the season yesterday
The goals came from Jamaal Lascelles (40), Moussa Sissoko (82) and Andros Townsend (89) and it was a well deserved win with a good second half display urged on by the crowd.
There were however about ten minutes of dodgy stuff in the second half after 70 minutes when Swansea came right back into the game and missed three decent chances, but overall Newcastle really deserved to win this game.
Rafa is right – we can get some wins at home if the fans stay behind the team and maybe all the hard work Rafa has done with the players may be starting to pay off.
His man-management from the touchline today was just fabulous and all the players seem to respect the man.
And it was fitting that Rafa’s 56th birthday was yesterday and the crowd sang Happy Birthday Dear Rafa towards the end of the game as two goals in the last 10 minutes sealed a vital win for us.
Benitez made five changes to the side that was so pathetic at St. Mary’s last week and he dropped both acting captain Jonjo Shelvey and Aleksandar Mitrovic – and it was a surprise when Moussa Sissoko was given the role of acting captain.
Newcastle started OK in the game but we couldn’t really make any impact in the final third of the pitch, but it was obvious the players were awake for this game and sully prepared as they closed down the Swansea players when they got the ball.
After 33 minutes a good ball from Papiss Cisse through to Jack Colback in the inside left position gave the local lad a chance, but Jack’s left foot shot was straight at the goalkeeper.
Swansea then had a chance but the shot was blocked by Cheick Tiote and the ball lobbed nicely into the waiting hands of goalkeeper Karl Darlow.
Then after 40 minutes from a left wing corner from Andros Townsend – Jamaal Lascelles showed great conviction as he got to the ball and headed home, even through he seemed to be held back by Swansea’s Sigurdsson.
Jamaal headed the ball into the goal off the goalkeeper Fabianski and if he hadn’t scored it looked like it was a foul by Sigurdsson and a penalty.
Jamaal has shown before he can be dangerous from corners and set plays and it was a vital goal for the Magpies and that’s Jamaal’s second goal from a set piece this season.
Half time came and it was still 1-0 but Newcastle had looked a little nervous because of the sheer importance of this game.
Newcastle had six shots in the first half and four shots were on target and one goal.
There were no changes at the break and after 50 minutes a useful ball into the box from Townsend looked inviting, but no Newcastle player was able to get onto the end of it and it eventually the ball went straight through to the goalkeeper.
After 66 minutes on came Jonjo Shelvey for Cheick Tiote.
But Swansea fought back and they were getting on top and after 71 minutes Ashley Williams had a great chance to equalize, but he blazed his shot just inches wide of the post.
On 73 minutes Ayoze Perez replaced Gini Wijnaldum who had another quiet game.
Four minutes later it was Jefferson Montero who for once had slipped Vurnon Anita in the inside left position, but he then managed to somehow screw his shot wide of the post and should have done a lot better.
And former striker target Bafe Gomis then blazed the ball over the bar when he was well positioned just outside the penalty box and should have at least hit the goal.
On 80 minutes on came Aleksandar Mitrovic for Papiss Cisse and the Serbian gained a left win corner after a minute or so.
From the Andros Townsend corner Mitro headed the ball towards goal and it hit a defender and within an instant it was Moussa Sissoko who slammed the ball home with his right foot and then went crazy running to the sidelines and to Rafa Benitez.
That was Moussa’s first goal of the season and he had a good game yesterday as stand-in captain.
That was a goal that should calm the nerves of the Newcastle players.
Andros Townsend scores after 89 minutes
And then after 89 minutes Jack Colback played a long ball out to Mitrovic on the right wing and he took the ball forward beating a defender and then he brilliantly slipped the ball through in the penalty area to Andros Townsend on his right.
Andros then took his left foot shot quickly and scored and he raised his arm in sheer triumph.
3-0 with two late goals and St. James Park was really jumping at this point and the chorus of Happy Birthday Dear Rafa rang out from the Gallowgate end.
The four minutes of stoppage time were played out and Mitrovic found himself straight through on goal but somehow he sent his shot wide of the goal – it’s a pity Aleksandar couldn’t have scored – he was great in his 10 minute cameo appearance yesterday.
Swansea have been poor all season from set plays and it seems Rafa Benitez exploited that weakness and we got our first two goals from set plays.
Dare we say that was good coaching?
The fans stayed behind to applaud the players for a very good display and a crucial 3 points when it really mattered.
At the end of the game Newcastle had taken 12 shots with seven on target and three goals.
It was a fantastic win.
Newcastle: Darlow, Anita, Mbemba, Lascelles, Dummett, Townsend, Tiote (Shelvey, 66), Colback, Sissoko, Wijnaldum (Perez, 73), Cisse (Mitrovic, 80). Subs not used: Woodman, Obertan, Aarons, de Jong.
Swansea: Fabianski, Rangel, Fernandez, Williams, Taylor, Fer (Barrow, 57), Cork, Sigurdsson, Montero, Ayew (Gomis, 71), Paloschi (Routledge, 84). Subs not used: Nordfeldt, Naughton, Amat, Britton.
Goals: Lascelles 40 Sissoko 82, Townsend 90
Bookings: Fer 11, Mbemba 22, Anita 73
Referee: Lee Mason (Bolton)
We put out an article on 17 month-old Poppy-Mai on Friday and she has recently been diagnosed with a progressive malignant rhabdoid tumour, a rare and aggressive form of paediatric cancer.
To show their support two of our readers in New Zealand Sean Gordon and his sister Hayley have cut off their hair which will be donated to the Little Princess Trust in the UK.
They will then transform the hair into beautiful wigs for children who have lost their own hair to cancer and all funds raised will go to Poppy-Mai’s family to create Poppy’s Field.