Monday 25 September 2017

Lascelles bags winner for second time in a week as Newcastle defeat Stoke

Jamaal Lascelles celebrates scoring Newcastle's second goal
Jamaal Lascelles celebrates scoring Newcastle's second goal

Jamaal Lascelles was Newcastle's hero for the second time in a week as Rafael Benitez celebrated his return to the dugout with a third successive Premier League victory.

Skipper Lascelles powered home a 68th-minute header to help Newcastle edge out Stoke 2-1, in the process securing a third back-to-back top-flight win for the Magpies for the first time since November 2014.

Christian Atsu had fired the home side ahead after 19 minutes, but Xherdan Shaqiri levelled 14 minutes after the restart to set the stage for Lascelles to repeat his feat at Swansea last Sunday, albeit with the help of goalkeeper Rob Elliot, who produced three excellent saves to deny Shaqiri twice and Mame Biram Diouf.

If Newcastle went into the game in good form, so too did Stoke and it was they who made the better start with captain Darren Fletcher and Shaqiri pulling the strings.

They went close with eight minutes gone when Maxim Choupo-Moting's shot was deflected just wide as it sped across a slick surface, but it was Newcastle who took the lead with 19 minutes gone courtesy of a flowing move which began when Ayoze Perez held off Joe Allen for Mikel Merino to feed Hayden.

He slid the ball out to Matt Ritchie, whose cross evaded the men in the middle, but feel perfectly for Atsu at the far post as he got ahead of Diouf to fire home from close range.

The Magpies might have extended their lead within three minutes, but Lascelles directed his glancing header from a Ritchie corner just wide, and Joselu was unable to hit the target against his former club as he slid in to meet Chancel Mbemba's teasing cross.

In the meantime, Elliot had clawed Shaqiri's curling effort out of his top corner with the Potters threatening a swift response.

However, the Magpies really should have extended their lead 11 minutes before the break when DeAndre Yedlin's shot was deflected into the path of Joselu, whose toe-poked effort was blocked by keeper Jack Butland's leg.

The former Stoke frontman was equally wasteful within 15 seconds of the restart when Kevin Wimmer misjudged Atsu's cross to put him in on goal, but with just Butland too beat, he blazed over the bar.

Breathing a sigh of relief, Stoke once again set about the process of dragging themselves back into the game and might have done so had Elliot not managed to beat away Shaqiri's powerfully-struck 51st-minute snapshot.

But there was nothing the Republic of Ireland international could do to deny Shaqiri six minutes later when he collected Choupo-Moting's pass, stepped on to his left foot and drilled a low effort past the keeper's out-stretched arm and into the bottom corner.

Elliot came to the home side's rescue once again with 64 minutes gone when he turned away Diouf's goal-bound header from Shaqiri's cross with Stoke sensing an opportunity.

The Magpies regained the lead four minutes later when Lascelles met Ritchie's corner with an unstoppable header, but Diouf might have snatched a draw at the death, only to guide Bruno Martins Indi's cross wide.

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