Elliot 7; Yedlin 6, Lascelles
7, Clark 6, Mbemba 6; Hayden 5 (Shelvey
(69th) 6), Merino 6; Ritchie 8, Perez 6 (Diame 86th), Atsu 7; Joselu 5 (Gayle 78th Stuart Attwell was unimpressed with the spot-kick claims but United were back in front after Lascelles met Ritchie’s right-wing corner with a header that went in off the bar.
In-form Choupo-Moting should have equalised three minutes from the end, blazing over from substitute Peter Crouch’s knockdown, before Diouf headed just wide in stoppage time.
The result meant that Toon, on the eve of the 20th anniversary of their famous 3-2 Champions League win here against Barcelona, moved up to fourth place.
But Benitez said: “I don’t want to see the table, believe me. I’ve said it’s all about one game at a time.
“We have to be sure that, in the next training session, we start correcting and improving things.
“We had the chances to finish the game early enough. We have to learn that, in the Premier League, you can’t make too many mistakes.
“But I’m not going to worry about missed chances – I’m really pleased if we can create them.
“Joselu was frustrated. When you’re a striker and you have chances, it’s important to score – and for a striker who played for Stoke, even more so.
“But I was really pleased with his contribution. He was winning the ball in the air and holding it up.
“There were a lot of positives from a lot of players but there’s still room for improvement.”
Benitez praised Lascelles and said: “It’s really important that we have players who want to stay, fight and defend the black and white shirt. The fans appreciate that and the captain leading by example is something we must be pleased about.”
And Benitez felt his side should have had a penalty, adding: “From the bench, it was clear. After, they told me he touched the ball – but you can’t change things from the bench.’’
Hughes said: “I think we deserved something. We didn’t play that well but I didn’t think we were poor.
“On occasions, we played into Newcastle’s hands, but we had our chances.’’
Butland 6; Zouma 6, Martins Indi 6, Wimmer 5; Diouf 6, Fletcher 6, Allen 6 (Crouch 84th), Pieters 5; Shaqiri 7, Choupo-Moting 6; Jese 4 (Sobhi (62nd) 5) Matt Ritchie S Attwell Brighton, Sept 24 (A) Bristol City, Sept 19 (A)
NEWCASTLE: STOKE: STAR MAN: REF: Newcastle’s next game: Stoke’s next game: ■ PEARL JAM: Lascelles celebrates his decisive strike