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Newcastle United vs Cardiff City. Sky Bet Championship.

St James' Park, NewcastleAttendance51,257.

Newcastle United 2

  • C Atsu (3rd minute)
  • Y Gouffran (45th minute)

Cardiff City 1

  • P Whittingham (77th minute)

Newcastle 2-1 Cardiff: Toon earn seventh straight win

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Highlights of the Sky Bet Championship match between Newcastle and Cardiff.

Newcastle claimed a seventh straight win in the Sky Bet Championship by defeating Cardiff City 2-1 at St James' Park.

Christian Atsu opened the scoring in the third minute and Yoan Gouffran added a second moments before half-time.

Cardiff's Peter Whittingham pulled one back from outside the area in the 77th minute to give the visitors a chance but Newcastle had done enough.

The latest success, equalling the club's run during the 2009-10 promotion season, lifted Rafael Benitez's side six points clear at the top of the table, even though Cardiff pushed them all the way.

Newcastle got off to the ideal start. Aleksandar Mitrovic won the battle to lead the line despite the return to fitness of leading scorer Dwight Gayle and the Serbian did not take long to make his presence felt.

After he was fed the ball just inside the Cardiff penalty area, Mitrovic turned his man and rolled a pass into the feet of Atsu. The winger, included in the absence of suspended Matt Ritchie, then did the rest by picking out the inside corner of Ben Amos' net.

Isaac Hayden and Kieran Richardson battle for the ball
Image: Isaac Hayden and Kieran Richardson battle for the ball

Cardiff threatened a couple of times before the break when Craig Noone reacted quickest to a ball over the top but he crashed a volley wide and Sol Bamba headed another effort wide.

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Before that Newcastle would have added to their one-goal advantage had Cardiff goalkeeper Amos not made a fantastic stop with his left hand to prevent Paul Dummett from firing past him.

Mitrovic had a header that flew over the bar when he rose highest to meet a Jonjo Shelvey corner and the latter had a rasping curler headed away by Bamba when it looked destined for the top corner.

After a period of Cardiff pressure, the second goal arrived seconds before the interval. DeAndre Yedlin's pass behind the defence was perfect for Gouffran to shoot first time inside the far post.

Yoan Gouffran scores Newcastle's second goal
Image: Yoan Gouffran scores Newcastle's second goal

Cardiff had only lost once since Neil Warnock took over in early October and they recovered to make a game of it after initially finding Newcastle too hot to handle.

Atsu almost had a second moments after the restart. A move down the left ended with his shot being deflected marginally over the bar.

The Ghanaian should have done better with another effort after Mitrovic had played set him free, but the winger's quick feet was not followed by a good finish and he curled over when the target was gaping.

Cardiff's Rickie Lambert could have pulled one back but missed the target before substitute Whittingham drilled a low effort through a crowded box to make things interesting for the final 13 minutes.

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Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez:

"The ref allows too much contact. They were complaining and we were not happy with decisions. We have to work hard even if we concede a goal that is not correct. I was not happy that we had to defend so much. But if a ref allows this situation you have to defend.

"I would rather play passing football, getting goals. In football if you play well you will have chances to win games. Sometimes you can't because the opposition is aggressive and the ref allows this contact. Sometimes you play passing football, sometimes you have to be strong and defend and stand up."

Cardiff boss Neil Warnock:

"I am so gutted at the penalty. Mitrovic mauls him down. At this level the officials should be educated better and know about the pull. They will go home and see it with their coaches next week and say 'oh yeah, I made a mistake'.

"We have not got enough goals in the squad at the moment. We have to work on that. There were some pluses though. The lads at the back especially. At half time they might have got five or six. The second goal killed us."

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