Rondon master­class just what Ben­itez hoped for at Newcastle

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Premier League - By Luke Ed­wards at St James’ Park

It is a shirt that has been worn by so many Newcastle United he­roes and leg­ends, as well as the oc­ca­sional mis­fit, but the club might just have found an­other No9 to fall in love with af­ter this Salomon Rondon master­class.

The Venezue­lan has taken his time to jus­tify Rafa Ben­itez’s re­lent­less pur­suit of him, but this was one of the most com­plete per­for­mances from a Newcastle striker in years.

Rondon scored twice and was only de­nied a hat-trick by the toe of As­mir Be­govic, the Bournemouth goal­keeper, but it was his work all over the pitch that impressed.

Whether hold­ing play up with his back to goal or run­ning on to through balls, Rondon would stretch his marker’s legs one minute and win an arm wres­tle with him the next. When Newcastle were cling­ing on, bom­barded by Bournemouth set-pieces in the sec­ond half, he re­peat­edly cleared the dan­ger. By the end, he was run­ning on fumes.

Re­mark­ably, when Ben­itez made Rondon – who is still feel­ing his way back to full fit­ness af­ter a thigh in­jury – his first-choice sum­mer strik­ing tar­get, there was a col­lec­tive ex­hal­ing of breath in the Newcastle board­room.

At 29, the West Bromwich Al­bion player was re­garded as too much of a risk at £16mil­lion. There would be, no mat­ter how well he did, lit­tle or no sel­lon value and his record in the West Mid­lands was per­ceived to be mod­est.

In the end, Ben­itez got his man, on loan, with Dwight Gayle head­ing in the other di­rec­tion. It might prove to be the most im­por­tant bat­tle of wills he has won at St James’ Park as Newcastle put back-to-back wins to­gether for the first time since April.

“When we signed Rondon we were af­ter a

striker who could win the ball in the air, hold it up, score goals and has mo­bil­ity as well,” said Ben­itez, his man­ager. “We knew he could bring some­thing dif­fer­ent. He can im­prove his fit­ness but he is go­ing to get bet­ter and bet­ter.”

Rondon’s first goal was su­perbly cre­ated by Mo Di­ame, whose chipped pass, with back spin, found DeAn­dre Yedlin. His first-time cross picked out Rondon and although his first shot was saved, he prod­ded in the re­bound. His sec­ond was sub­lime, the sort of header that gen­er­ates so much power it flies like a mis­sile, as he at­tacked Kenedy’s cross.

Newcastle were in con­trol but a lengthy break, caused by a knee in­jury to Adam Smith of Bournemouth, meant there were eight min­utes of stop­page time and they switched off. Bournemouth pulled a goal back through Jef­fer­son Lerma and their tails were up in the sec­ond half. Dan Gosling thought he had equalised but strayed off­side.

“I was not happy with the firsthalf per­for­mance,” said Ed­die Howe, the Bournemouth man­ager, who con­firmed Smith’s knee in­jury is a se­ri­ous one. “There were bet­ter phases in the sec­ond half and I felt a sec­ond goal was com­ing, but we couldn’t force it in.”

At the dou­ble: Salomon Rondon cel­e­brates af­ter his sec­ond goal

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.