Seven days is long time in United’s world
Newcastle 2 Bournemouth 1
SALOMON Rondon inspired Newcastle United to their second successive Premier League victory as the No 9 scored a brace at St James’ Park during a 2-1 victory over Bournemouth.
In an entertaining encounter on Tyneside, the Magpies forward netted his first St James’ Park strikes during the first half to give the home side a two-goal lead.
Jefferson Lerma pulled one back for the visitors just before the break, but Newcastle held on to claim a precious three points which lifts them up into lower mid-table.
Here, NUFC Writer Chris Waugh takes us through what we learned from another hugely significant afternoon for the Magpies.
In the build-up to this game, the striker who was grabbing the headlines was Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson as he celebrated his England callup following a wonderful start to the campaign.
Yet it was Newcastle’s No 9 Rondon who was the star of this match, scoring twice during the first half and seemingly vindicating Benitez’s decision to pursue the Venezuelan as his No 1 striker target during the summer window.
There are some within the Newcastle hierarchy who simply did not want to recruit Rondon – and that is why Benitez was only delivered the 29-yearold on a season-long loan deal which also saw Dwight Gayle depart for the campaign, too.
Yet Benitez was adamant Rondon was the striker who could excel in his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation – given tht he is a powerful target-man figure who can bring his team-mates into play.
With Rondon having only managed six Premier League appearances so far this season before this game due to injury issues, eyebrows were being raised across Tyneside as to whether Benitez had made a mistake in bringing the Venezuelan to the North East.
Yet it took just seven minutes for Rondon to open his St James’ Park account by netting his first Premier RAFA Benitez looked conflicted on the touchline on Saturday afternoon.
The Newcastle United manager was undoubtedly delighted to see his side lead against AFC Bournemouth – but the pre-match gameplan which the Spaniard had come up with did not appear to be playing out as he had hoped.
For a manager as pragmatic as Benitez, the sight of 32 shots being peppered at both goals – with 14 of those for the away side – will have been tantamount to torture for him.
Structure is everything to Benitez; League goal for Newcastle.
Mo Diame played DeAndre Yedlin in down the right, he centred low to Rondon, whose first attempt was well saved by Asmir Begovic. But, on the rebound, Rondon tucked the ball underneath the Bournemouth goalkeeper.
Yet the striker’s second was the pick of the goals – and it was scored in trademark Rondon style.
Ki Sung-yueng switched play from right to left, Kenedy whipped a delicious cross to the front post, where Rondon powered an unstoppable header into the top right-hand corner of the net.
During the second period, Rondon had two opportunities to grab a hattrick, but his general all-round that is why United more often than not adopt a 4-2-3-1 formation, and why he so frequently cites his ‘short blanket’ analogy when discussing his team.
Open matches bring with them increased risk – and Benitez is not a manager who likes to leave anything to chance.
But Bournemouth appear to thrive on chaos; Eddie Howe’s side show ambition to play it from anywhere and everywhere, and they commit bodies forward in numbers.
Newcastle were dragged into the disorder at St James’ Park and, although it made for a magnificent spectacle for the neutral, it is not something which Benitez will want to be repeated on a regular basis.
Rarely have United fans been treated to such an exciting, end-toend game in recent seasons; certainly not since promotion back to the Premier League have Newcastle been involved in such a frenzied affair on Tyneside.
It is testament to Benitez – who tried to exert some control over the bedlam which was unfolding in front of his eyes by shifting to a fiveman defence, and by introducing three second-half substitutes who were not like for like as his replacements so often are – and to the Newcastle players that they held off the Cherries’ fightback.
Luck played its part for the second week in succession – Bournemouth, like Watford, were wasteful in front of goal – but United once again displayed the heart, desire and determination to see this game through.
That was thanks in no small part to man-of-the-match Salomon Rondon’s exemplary all-round display.
Fabian Schar heads the ball clear for UnitedSalomon Rondon celebrates scoring the second goal