New­cas­tle get­ting their mojo back

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Sport - - SPORT | SOCCER -

New­cas­tle United Stoke

TCity an ex­cite­ment back in there 2 1 HE re­cu­per­a­tion of Rafa Ben­itez and his club con­tinue. The Spa­niard is well and New­cas­tle United are fourth. Even the rain stopped when Stu­art At­twell blew his whis­tle for the fi­nal time on a vo­cif­er­ous af­ter­noon.

A few New­cas­tle fans might even want the sea­son to end now, but a third suc­ces­sive top-flight win for the first time in three years sug­gests bet­ter times lie ahead.

There is city.

New­cas­tle had their lead as early as the 19th minute, and once more it was down to the de­liv­ery of Matt Ritchie, his right-footed cross fall­ing per­fectly for the left foot of Chris­tian Atsu, who volleyed home.

Then came chances to stretch the lead: Chris­tian Mbe­mba crossed from the left and Joselu stabbed the ball wide with just Jack But­land to beat. Seven min­utes later a DeAn­dre Yedlin shot de­flected into the path of the Span­ish for­ward, who took a touch and then saw But­land save his shot.

Once Atsu had scored the was a free­dom to their play, and at times Stoke were sim­ply over­run, to the fury of Mark Hughes.

It was all about the move­ment and vi­brancy of a young New­cas­tle team start­ing to be­lieve in it­self. Joselu how­ever, was off tar­get again, just 18 sec­onds into the sec­ond half. Atsu again did well down the left and bent a cross that went be­hind the Stoke back­line. The for­mer Stoke for­ward took a touch be­fore strik­ing a right footed shot over But­land’s cross­bar with only the goal­keeper to beat.

The profli­gacy al­ways looked like it could come back to haunt New­cas­tle, and that came in the 57th minute. Xher­dan Shaqiri had been de­nied by an­other good Rob El­liot save six minute ear­lier, but at the third time of ask­ing he had the New­cas­tle goal­keeper’s num­ber.

The Swiss for­ward picked up the ball five yards out­side the New­cas­tle penalty area and was af­forded the time to tee the ball up, and he drilled a shot into the bot­tom cor­ner.

The win­ner, as with the Mag­pies vic­tory at Swansea, would be down to the de­sire of the club’s cap­tain.

A Ritchie cor­ner came over from the right and Ja­maal Las­celles’ move­ment and power was too much for Kevin Wim­mer, and his header went into But­land’s goal off the un­der­side of his cross­bar.

He took the ac­claim then, as he was the last man to leave the field. New­cas­tle have spirit, and their cap­tain typ­i­fies it.

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