Scorch­ing hot Perez aim­ing even Ay-er as sur­vival is in sight

IN-FORM MAG­PIES STRIKER IN­SISTS HE WON’T SET­TLE FOR SIM­PLY STAY­ING UP

The Chronicle - - Nufc - By LEE RY­DER lee.ry­der@trin­i­tymir­ror.com @lee_ry­der

NEW­CAS­TLE United star Ay­oze Perez is sim­ply too hot to han­dle for Premier League de­fences at the mo­ment.

His form has spear­headed United’s bid to se­cure top-flight sur­vival, but he is re­fus­ing to set­tle for sim­ply stay­ing up and now has his eyes on se­cur­ing a re­spectable fin­ish in the ta­ble.

The Spa­niard has net­ted three goals in his last three games to help the Mag­pies record con­sec­u­tive vic­to­ries and climb into the top 10 of the Premier League. Perez has had his crit­ics in the past but he is on course to end the sea­son as the club’s top scorer and, play­ing under a man­ager who fully be­lieves in him, he will be con­fi­dent of keep­ing up his su­perb run. Af­ter bag­ging three goals and two as­sists in his last three matches, Perez told the Chron­i­cle: “It means a lot to the club and a lot to me per­son­ally. “I still get that feel­ing of some type of eu­pho­ria when I score a goal at St James’ Park. I can’t ex­plain it in some ways.

“But I still get it ev­ery time I score here.

“I am al­ways happy to help the team and beat a top side like we did.”

New­cas­tle’s win over Arse­nal vir­tu­ally guar­an­teed top-flight sta­tus for an­other sea­son along with an­other huge in­jec­tion of TV money.

Perez was de­lighted to do it in real style against one of the divi­sion’s top six.

He re­flected: “Arse­nal are a great team and it was a su­per ef­fort from the boys again.

“It has been a great part of the

We have to be pro­fes­sional un­til the end of the sea­son and fin­ish as high as we pos­si­bly can Ay­oze Perez

sea­son for us. We are get­ting a lot of points and New­cas­tle will be a Premier League team next year, which is the most im­por­tant thing.” Perez is find­ing his killer touch in front of goal at just the right time, al­though he has in­sisted that his workrate has never dipped. In­deed, the for­mer Tener­ife striker is still mak­ing the same type of runs into the box as he was for the ma­jor­ity of the sea­son. He said: “Know­ing DeAn­dre, he al­ways loves to make those runs for­ward and make crosses. “I re­mem­ber last sea­son scor­ing a sim­i­lar goal. “It was a great lit­tle touch and it went in so I was re­ally happy.” Not con­tent with scor­ing the equaliser, Perez then chipped in with an im­pres­sive as­sist for Matt Ritchie to grab the win­ner in front of the Gal­low­gate End. Perez added: “The team suf­fered a lit­tle bit at this stage of the game and we were a lit­tle bit tired. “But we still fought un­til the end. “We did quite well and had the chance to score the sec­ond goal.

“And Matt got a great goal to win the game be­fore he went over to the cor­ner and went crazy to cel­e­brate it! “It was a great mo­ment in the sea­son. “This feel­ing was re­ally en­joy­able and we want that to con­tinue.”

New­cas­tle then had to hold out to claim three im­por­tant points be­fore their Premier League sta­tus for next sea­son was de­clared in the eyes of the play­ers and Ben­itez.

Now, United play­ers are hun­gry for more, Perez said: “We went on to get the three points that are re­ally im­por­tant to us. “Now we want more though. “We have to be pro­fes­sional now un­til the end of the sea­son and fin­ish as high as we pos­si­bly can.”

Chief sports writer

Ay­oze Perez cel­e­brates af­ter scor­ing United’s first goal (above) against Arse­nal at the week­end - his third in his last three games

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