Huddersfield 1-3 Newcastle: Magpies strengthen lead at Championship summit
By Alice Piper
Last Updated: 05/03/17 1:19am
Newcastle stretched their lead at the top of the Sky Bet Championship to five points with an impressive victory over third-placed Huddersfield at a rocking John Smith's Stadium on Saturday.
Goals from Matt Ritchie, Daryl Murphy and Dwight Gayle condemned David Wagner's Town to their first home defeat since November to round off a wonderful week for Rafael Benitez's men, who saw off fellow title rivals Brighton on Tuesday night.
Aaron Mooy pulled one back for Huddersfield in the 72nd minute, but it was too little too late for the home side who suffered their first defeat in eight league games.
Ritchie opened the scoring from the spot after just 10 minutes when he was brought down by Nahki Wells, with referee Roger East showing no hesitation in awarding the penalty.
The Terriers protested Wells made little contact as he pulled out of the challenge, with Jonjo Shelvey appearing to have raised an arm to the ball just moments before the initial delivery into the Huddersfield box.
A second Newcastle goal followed 22 minutes later when Murphy pounced on a mistake by goalkeeper Danny Ward, who spilled the ball as he rushed out from his goal before the latter slotted home from a narrow angle past a sprawling Michael Hefele to double his side's advantage.
Newcastle proved difficult to break down, limiting chances afforded to Rajiv van La Parra and Elias Kachunga, but that didn't stop Wagner's men from attempting to drive forward.
And their persistence paid off when they finally found a way back into the game after 72 minutes when Shelvey fouled Elias Kachunga inside the penalty box, before Mooy stepped up and sent Darlow the wrong way.
Van La Parra almost grabbed an equaliser in the 89th minute when he burst forward and released a shot from 20 yards out, but again Darlow produced a superb stop to keep the hosts at bay.
Huddersfield were forced into a goalkeeping change at the break when Ward suffered a dead leg and it was an appearance to forget for reserve 'keeper Joel Coleman, who left his goal exposed in the dying moments to join a free-kick and Gayle capitalised on an empty goal, getting on the end of a long clearance to seal the points for the visitors.
Huddersfield boss David Wagner
"We said this would be a very tight game and I think it was. I think with the first two goals there were details which were against us.
"The first penalty wasn't a penalty and, with the second goal, I think our goalkeeper touched the ball with his hand and then when somebody goes against him then it's a foul.
"Then, out of nothing, you are 2-0 down to a very good side but, on the other side, I have no complaints.
"We tried everything. It was a very unlucky defeat because of some unlucky situations. I am totally proud of the players because they tried everything. We go forward."
Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez
"We knew that we were playing against a team that is comfortable in possession, so we decided to defend and give them the possession.
"They were pushing and they were passing the ball quite well but our game plan was good. We were working and trying to stop them getting in the middle.
"We defended well and showed we could play in the counter-attack. The last goal was unlucky for them because they were taking a risk. We needed discipline and work-rate. They were working so hard and I think they were well organised and tried to do what we said we'd do.
"It is still one game at a time. We have more games to play and more points to play for. We have to enjoy today but in a couple of days we have to play a game so that is a difficult part of this game. We have to be ready."