Newcastle 1-0 Watford: Ayoze Perez strikes as Toon break duck
Last Updated: 03/11/18 5:41pm
Newcastle recorded their first Premier League victory of the season as Ayoze Perez scored in a 1-0 win over Watford on Saturday.
Having failed to win any of their opening 10 league games of a season for just the second time in their history, the relief around St James Park' was clear to see when the striker headed home (64).
Rafa Benitez's men had to ride their luck at times as Roberto Pereyra hit the crossbar and Gerard Deulofeu was especially wasteful with his finishing in the first half.
The victory, which lifts Newcastle out of the relegation zone, may have come at a cost though as Benitez lost Jamaal Lascelles, Jonjo Shelvey and Yoshinori Muto to injuries.
Watford started brightly and Adrian Mariappa should have punished Newcastle's sloppy marking but he fired wide from eight yards out.
Deulofeu skewed a shot wide from close range after a great run from Jose Holebas but was even more wasteful minutes later when spurning a one-on-one with Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.
Both teams made one change from their previous games with Solomon Rondon replacing Ayoze Perez up top for Newcastle and Jose Holebas came in fro Adam Masina for Watford.
After the break, it was still Watford doing the more creative work in the final third as Newcastle had to adapt to losing both Shelvey, Lascelles and Muto to injuries.
A Watford goal would have knocked Newcastle for six but Pereyra's curling 50th-minute effort came back off the crossbar and Craig Cathcart headed over when well placed.
Newcastle: Dubravka (7), Dummett (7), Lascelles (6), Fernandez (7), Yedlin (7), Shelvey (6), Diame (7), Ritchie (6), Kenedy (8), Rondon (6), Muto (6)
Subs: Perez (7), Ki (8), Schar (7)
Watford: Foster (6), Femenia (6), Mariappa (6), Cathcart (6), Holebas (6), Doucoure (6), Capoue (6), Hughes (6), Deulofeu (5), Pereyra (7), Success (5)
Subs: Okaka (5), Gray (6), Chalobah (5)
Man of the match: Kenedy
Newcastle remained in the game and with 25 minutes remaining edged in front. Ki Sung-yueng - Shelvey's replacement - curled in a majestic set-piece which was glanced into the net by Perez. The relief around St James' was clear to see.
Benitez's men closed the game out in relatively solid style but Stefan Okaka should have equalised for Watford in stoppage time but blazed over from eight yards out.
- Newcastle earned their first victory in all competitions against Watford since a Championship game in February 2010, ending a run of five consecutive defeats against the Hornets.
- A league-high share 57% of Newcastle's Premier League goals this season have been headers (4/7).
- Watford mustered 16 shots in this match, but just one of these was on target. 13 of their attempts came in the opening 45 minutes.
- Pérez scored his first goal in 11 Premier League games for Newcastle, since netting twice against Chelsea on the final day of the 2017-18 season.
- This was Rafael Benitez's 50th win as Newcastle manager in all competitions, in his 116th game in charge of the Magpies.
Man of the match: Kenedy
The Brazilian - more known for his silky skills rather than tough tackles - epitomised Newcastle's approach with an all-action and hugely determined display. He was always an outlet for the hosts going forward but it was his defensive work that caught the eye with his standout moment coming in the closing stages when he sprinted back 40 yards to make a last-ditch tackle on Andre Gray, who looked set to equalise.
Pundit reaction: Charlie Nicholas
"If Watford had gone in at half-time in front, then Newcastle would've been in trouble. But gradually they ground it out, with all the substitutions.
"It was dogged determination that got them through this. The player who stood out was Diame. He's not always been at it, but I thought today he was very, very impressive.
"When this team is nervous, they have to sit in and get their discipline sorted out. But the substitutions worked for them.
"They showed determination, but it could've been so different. Deulofeu is so frustrating. One day he's brilliant and at other times, he's laughable.
"Now Newcastle are out the bottom three. It was a massive win for them."
Newcastle are back at St James' Park next Saturday when Bournemouth visit while Watford have another away day, this time at Southampton.