Newcastle had to defend for their lives in that first half yesterday and we saw three excellent saves during that period from goalkeeper Karl Darlow.
We also saw the tackle of the game from young Jamaal Lascelles after just 11 minutes when Connor Whickham was straight through on goal.
Lascelles quickly tackled the former Sunderland striker with a sliding right-footed challenge that was perfectly timed to clear the ball and the danger – it was simply a wonderful tackle from the 22 year-old.
Fantastic sliding tackle from Jamaal Lascelles yesterday
On Match of the Day last night former Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy talked about Jamaal and he´s been impressed with the young Newcastle center-back who has started six game since Rafa Benitez arrived at the club:
“I hadn’t seen too much of him and I think in the last few weeks he has really come to the fore.”
“Jamaal Lascelles is athletic, he is outspoken as well – which you don’t mind because it shows that he cares, good positional play.”
“There is a lot more to his game than that. He made the best tackle of the match , spots the danger and his speed gets him back and the timing – he goes to ground and if you don’t get the ball you are in trouble.”
“His distribution – I always like to see a defender who is willing to play it out.”
“He showed leadership qualities as well: pointing at people, shouting at them and organizing.”
“Second half Newcastle didn’t have as much defending to do, but he showed glimpses of his strength, his pace and his calmness.”
“The big question for me is ’Why the hell wasn’t he playing earlier?’ – because he does looks a really terrific player.”
He wasn´t playing earlier because Steve McClaren would have kept Coloccini – his captain – and Mbemba as first choices throughout the season – assuming they were available.
And we notice that Rafa isn´t too keen to rush Colo back into the team with Lascelles and Mbemba looking so good – and they are both in their very early twenties.
Jamaal when younger was tipped to become a future top England International and from what we´ve seen of him lately he´s exactly that.
And our two buys from Nottingham Forest, Jamaal and Karl Darlow have performed extremely well for us since Rafa joined the club.
They look like two top acquisitions for Newcastle and credit goes to both Englishmen, who seem to have tip-top temperaments for these big games.