Newcastle United 1 Huddersfield Town 0
- Martin Atkinson
Ayoze Pérez struck ten minutes from time to fire Newcastle United to another crucial Premier League victory against Huddersfield Town.
It was a win that the Magpies merited on the balance of play, with the Spaniard making the decisive contribution after meeting Kenedy’s centre deep inside the penalty area.
A brief period in the second half aside, Huddersfield offered little in the attacking third, and - though they too sit above the bottom three – the Terriers now trail the Magpies by four points in the table.
After a fiery start – in which Newcastle’s Jamaal Lascelles and Huddersfield’s Aaron Mooy both saw yellow – the Magpies were the first to go close 15 minutes in. Jonjo Shelvey let fly with a first-time effort from 20 yards, and with the ball going wide, Dwight Gayle attempted to divert the shot back on target, but the frontman just failed to trouble Jonas Lössl.
With United’s next attack, Matt Ritchie found himself with just the Danish ‘keeper left to beat, but Lössl managed to stand firm against the wide-man.
Newcastle were starting to look increasingly lively, Gayle in particular. The frontman tested Lössl with a low-struck effort after cutting inside, before clipping the ball past the far post after the stopper came off his line. Just after the half-hour mark, the former Crystal Palace forward looked poised to open the scoring after DeAndre Yedlin’s cross dropped into his path, but he failed to keep his shot on target.
They started the second in promising fashion, too, with Shelvey skewing off-target barely a minute after the restart. Just before the hour, the Terriers registered their first meaningful effort of the afternoon, with powerful forward Laurent Depoitre holding off a challenge on the edge of the penalty area before drilling wide.
David Wagner’s side then came very close to breaking the deadlock. Mathias Jørgensen met Mooy’s corner eight yards from goal, and the Dane’s headed attempt bounced against a teammate before dropping kindly for United ‘keeper Martin Dúbravka.
With the Terriers starting to grow as an attacking threat, Rafa Benítez introduced Islam Slimani for his Newcastle bow with just over 15 minutes to play.
However, it was another substitute – Christian Atsu – who played a key role in United’s goal. The Ghanaian advanced down the right flank before standing up a cross towards the back post, which Kenedy unselfishly rolled back to Pérez to slot home.
Scott Malone nearly got on the end of an Alex Pritchard cross as Huddersfield looked for a late leveller, but Dúbravka managed to intervene and the Magpies saw out the remaining moments to put further distance between themselves and the relegation zone.