Newcastle 2-1 Stoke: Jamaal Lascelles the hero once again as Rafael Benitez returns to dugout
By Michael Hincks
Last Updated: 16/09/17 7:46pm
Jamaal Lascelles scored the winning goal for the second straight weekend as Newcastle battled to a 2-1 victory over Stoke on Saturday afternoon.
Rafael Benitez was absent for the defender's heroics against Swansea last week, but the Newcastle manager returned to the dugout to witness Lascelles head the hosts to all three points in the 68th minute.
Christian Atsu's first Premier League goal had fired Newcastle ahead (19) at St James' Park, only to see Xherdan Shaqiri level the match (57) with a low 25-yard strike.
Newcastle's third straight victory in the Premier League sends them up to fourth, while it also hands Stoke their first defeat since the opening day of the season.
Newcastle: Elliot (8), Yedlin (8), Clark (7), Lascelles (7), Mbemba (7), Hayden (6), Merino (8), Perez (8), Atsu (7), Ritchie (8), Joselu (5)
Subs: Shelvey (6), Gayle (6), Diame (6)
Stoke City: Butland (6), Martins Indi (7), Zouma (6), Wimmer (6), Diouf (7), Allen (6), Fletcher (6), Pieters (6), Choupo-Moting (6), Shaqiri (7), Jese (6)
Subs: Sobhi (6), Crouch (N/A)
Man of the match: Matt Ritchie
A bright start for Stoke came to nothing as Atsu converted Newcastle's first opportunity of the match after 19 minutes.
Matt Ritchie's cross from the corner of the penalty area swung towards the back post, and Atsu was there to beat Mame Biram Diouf to the ball and tuck it away.
Shaqiri then forced Rob Elliot into a stunning save - the Swiss' curled effort looked destined for the top corner before the Newcastle 'keeper got his fingertips to it.
Rafael Benitez made three changes to the side that beat Swansea last weekend, bringing in DeAndre Yedlin, Chancel Mbemba and Christian Atsu for Javi Manquillo, Jesus Gamez and Jacob Murphy.
Mark Hughes brought in Bruno Martins Indi for Geoff Cameron, who is out for two weeks with a hamstring injury.
A hat-trick of glorious chances fell to Joselu against his former employers either side of half-time, but the forward sent a first-time strike wide, saw Jack Butland keep out his close-range effort and then flashed his shot over after Atsu's pinpoint cross.
Stoke punished Newcastle for not putting the game beyond them when Shaqiri equalised with a low left-footed effort which sailed beyond Elliot and into the bottom corner.
Elliot then did brilliantly to deny Diouf before a big call down the other end saw Stuart Attwell dismiss Atsu's claims for a penalty after Kurt Zouma appeared to get a touch on the ball and bring the player down with one swift movement.
However, Newcastle's frustrations were short-lived, as Ritchie's corner was met by Lascelles, whose header took a huge deflection off Kevin Wimmer and flew beyond Butland.
Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting missed a great chance to level at the death, but he fired over following substitute Peter Crouch's nod down before Diouf somehow headed wide of the mark in injury time.
- Newcastle have won three consecutive top-flight games for the first time since November 2014.
- Stoke have enjoyed just one win in their last 11 away league games, drawing three and losing seven.
- Christian Atsu scored his first Premier League goal in his 10th appearance in the competition (despite making his English top-flight debut in August 2014).
- Matt Ritchie has provided 11 assists in the league since the start of last season, more than any other Newcastle player.
Rafael Benitez: "It's not easy, because you are watching your team but cannot get too agitated or shout too much. So in the end, you're just passing on messages. They did a great job against Swansea, and they continued doing the same here.
"It's always good when you win and especially when the team is working so hard. Hopefully we can continue this mentality."
Mark Hughes: "We had clear-cut chances with Choupo-Moting and Diouf. In fairness, their keeper made a couple of outstanding saves so we created a fair number of chances.
"We weren't able to capitalise on that and made a couple of mistakes in terms of the goals that we conceded."
Phil Thompson: "There is a lot of confidence oozing through the side. A lot of players who I thought maybe lacked the ability or passion are rising to the occasion.
"None more so than the match-winner, Lascelles, who has been the rock that these victories have been built on. You can see he's a leader."
Man of the match - Matt Ritchie
With this man's delivery, Newcastle can have every hope of finishing in the top half this season.
Two assists for Ritchie at St James' Park on Saturday afternoon makes that four in his last three games. The Toon Army will continue to be a danger from set-pieces so long as the 28-year-old is gearing up to take them.
Newcastle head to Brighton next weekend on Nissan Super Sunday, live on Sky Sports Premier League. Meanwhile, Stoke are in Carabao Cup action at Bristol City on Tuesday before hosting Chelsea next Saturday.