Stoke City 0 Newcastle United 1
- Chris Kavanagh
Ayoze Pérez’s second half winner meant Newcastle United made the perfect start to 2018 as they beat Stoke City 1-0 on Monday afternoon.
Pérez gleefully dispatched Jacob Murphy’s excellent cross with 73 minutes on the clock to give United back-to-back away victories, as Rafa Benítez’s men ground out their second win over the Potters this term.
It was no less than the Magpies deserved, after an industrious display in front of 3,200 travelling supporters.
And they began well at the bet365 Stadium, with Christian Atsu – deployed in an unfamiliar role up front alongside Pérez – having three sights of goal in the opening quarter of an hour. He had a low shot deflected past the post and a sidefooted effort which didn’t trouble Jack Butland, but his third was the best chance. DeAndre Yedlin’s cross found him in space in the middle, but Atsu was foiled by England keeper Butland, who saved well.
Stoke posed a few problems of their own, with Maxim Choupo-Moting and the overlapping full back Tom Edwards looking lively on the flanks, but their best attempt of the half came from a free kick as Charlie Adam took aim from 30 yards. Karl Darlow was equal to it, though, pushing the swerving strike away.
The Magpies ought to have taken the lead on the half hour, when Matt Ritchie’s inswinging corner was flicked on by Pérez and met by Ciaran Clark, but the centre half’s finish somehow cleared the crossbar from close range. Ritchie then saw Butland deny him twice, though neither effort – a low shot and a header – caused too much trouble for the Potters stopper.
Mark Hughes’ men came out fighting after the break, and Choupo-Moting forced a fine save from darlow not long after the restart. His powerful effort from the edge of the box looked to be heading for the top corner until the United custodian’s fine intervention, a strong hand to turn it over the bar.
Atsu was withdrawn just after the hour, with Dwight Gayle sent on in his place, and he immediately made his presence felt, nodding Darlow’s long ball down for Pérez, who was fouled. Jonjo Shelvey stepped up to take the free kick, but curled it just past Butland’s left-hand post.
Gayle then had a penalty appeal waved away by Chris Kavanagh, as he went down under the challenge of Kurt Zouma as he looked to get on the end of Murphy’s pass.
And with 18 minutes left, Murphy once again found space, driving forward down the right from halfway. He looked up, sent over an inch-perfect low cross and Pérez did the rest, firing under Butland and into the net.
But the Magpies were indebted to Darlow, who pulled off two outstanding point-blank saves from substitute Mame Diouf late on to preserve his side’s lead.