NEWCASTLE ............................................................ 2 Unitedcelebrate anniversary of famous victory in fitting style
Could, and should, have had a hattrick. Got in right positions and held up play well, but finishing must improve NEWCASTLE United may not be on a level playing field with Barcelona anymore but on the 20th anniversary of their Champions League win over the Catalans, the passion of St James’ Park still crackled fiercely as the Magpies climbed into the upper echelons of the Premier League.
Led by captain fantastic Jamaal Lascelles – who headed home the vital winning strike at the Gallowgate End – Newcastle recorded their third win a row in the Premier League for the first time since 2014.
But they had to fight tooth and nail for the victory, and while the heroes in black and white may have changed down the years, it’s a fair bet that Tino Asprilla and the like would have appreciated the battling qualities of the current occupiers of the black and white shirts.
Newcastle could have had this game wrapped up earlier had Joselu not missed a trio of good chances either side of half-time.
However, the character of United shone through after they hit back after Xherdan Shaqiri’s stunning equaliser at the Leazes End.
Both teams had started the day in a cautious manner resulting in no shots on target from either side in the first 15 minutes.
However, United found a breakthrough on the 20-minute mark when Mikel Merino and Isaac Hayden worked well to get the ball to Matt Ritchie on the right.
The Scotland winger played in a teasing cross and Christian Atsu arrived at the back post to poke home from close range. Jamaal Lascelles of Newcastle United heads the ball to score his side’s winner against Stoke, then celebrates (right)
Two minutes later, skipper Jamaal Lascelles rose high from a corner but headed just wide as the Magpies enjoyed a spell of possession.
Stoke responded on 23 minutes when former Inter Milan star Shaqiri whipped in a vicious shot from the right only for Rob Elliot to expertly palm the danger away, making an excellent stop.
Newcastle should have doubled their lead on 27 minutes when Chancel Mbemba picked out Joselu, but the latter squandered a good chance right in front of goal.
The ex-Stoke striker had another chance 11 minutes before the break when DeAndre Yedlin’s shot was deflected into his path, but Stoke keeper Jack Butland rushed out to deny his former team-mate with his feet.
United went in 1-0 up at the break but Joselu didn’t have to wait long for his next chance.
Sadly, it was a case of what might have been again for the ex-Real Madrid forward.
Just 15 seconds into the second half Atsu’s clipped pass found