Newcastle United 3 Cardiff City 0
- Stuart Attwell
Newcastle United moved out of the Premier League’s relegation zone as a brace from defender Fabian Schär and a late Ayoze Pérez strike saw off Cardiff City at St. James’ Park.
The Swiss international opened the scoring with a wonderful individual effort midway through the first half, carrying the ball 40 yards before curling into the far corner from just inside the penalty area.
A second goal always looked like it’d be enough to kill off the visitors, who offered little throughout. And, early into the second half, United got it, with Schär sticking out a leg to direct Jamaal Lascelles’ headed effort back on target and into the net.
By and large, United cruised from that point on, and added a touch of gloss to the scoreline in stoppage time, with Pérez getting across his marker to stab home Salomón Rondón’s centre.
After a cautious opening ten minutes, the Magpies were the first to go close with just under a quarter of an hour played. Matt Ritchie delivered a corner from the left into the heart of Cardiff’s penalty area, and Pérez’s goalbound header was superbly tipped over the crossbar by goalkeeper Neil Etheridge.
But, after Pérez saw a strong penalty appeal turned down, United took the lead in extraordinary fashion. Schär – deployed on the right of a three-man backline – picked up the ball out wide just inside the Bluebirds’ half and, after holding off one half-hearted challenge from new boy Oumar Niasse, carried on into the box untroubled before picking out the far corner with a low, left-footed strike.
In response, Cardiff offered next to nothing. Just before the break, and perhaps a touch out of frustration, Víctor Camarasa tried his luck from 25 yards, with the ball whistling narrowly over the crossbar. Other than that, though, Neil Warnock’s side rarely looked like troubling Martin Dúbrvaka during the opening 45 minutes.
They looked a little more purposeful coming out for the second half, but it was United who carved out the first clear chance after the interval. Rondón flicked on a long, searching ball and, in turn, Christian Atsu nodded it between two Cardiff defenders and into Pérez. The Spaniard managed to hold off Joe Bennett’s challenge and get a shot away, but Etheridge stuck out an arm to block.
Arguably, though, Newcastle always looked at their most threatening from corners, and just after the hour-mark, they rubber-stamped their authority on the game following another Ritchie delivery. Lascelles nodded the Scot’s in-swinger towards the back post, and the ball took a nick off Schär before nestling in the unguarded near corner.
It looked like Rondón would quickly add a third after seizing control of a loose ball just a few minutes later, but Lee Peltier managed to get in the way of the Venezuelan’s effort. At the other end, substitute Bobby Reid looked to set up Callum Paterson for a tap-in after gathering a threaded pass, but Schär got across to produce a vital interception.
Cardiff got into a handful of promising positions late on, but their final ball was lacking. And, deep into added time, they shipped a third after being undone on the counter. Atsu set Rondón away down the left, and the frontman held off Bennett before teeing up Pérez, who tucked the ball away to make sure of the Magpies’ most comfortable win of the season.