Atsu elated as Magpies see off City
Written by Rory Mitchinson
Christian Atsu was delighted to send Newcastle United’s supporters home happy after the Magpies came from behind to record a magnificent win over Manchester City at St. James’ Park on Tuesday night.
Rafa Benítez’s side trailed to Sergio Agüero’s strike just 24 seconds into the clash but, after managing to prevent further damage, they restored parity through Salomón Rondón midway through the second half before Matt Ritchie converted from the spot to clinch a memorable victory.
Prior to last night’s success, United had lost eight of their 12 Premier League games at St. James’ Park this season, and wide-man Atsu felt that victory over Pep Guardiola’s defending champions will have gone some way towards making up for some disappointing results on home soil in recent months.
“Our aim this season is to make sure we stay up for the fans, for our families and for everyone that’s supporting Newcastle. With the fans behind us, supporting us and shouting, it gives us a lot of strength and motivation to keep going. As players, we know they deserve better, and tonight I think they’re going to be very happy going home,” the Ghanaian told nufc.co.uk.
“We’re very happy about the result. It’s a fantastic result. We were together, we stayed in the game. When you look at the games we’ve played against the top six this season, we’ve lost some games 1-0 and some games 2-1, so we were almost there. But today we won the game, and I think we deserved it.”
Ahead of their arrival on Tyneside, City had plundered 28 goals in their last six outings, and their eight-game winning run in all competitions looked set to continue after Agüero’s early opener.
Rather than flatten United, though, the Argentine’s strike proved the catalyst for a more open encounter. Atsu was among those to threaten for the Magpies before the break, while the visitors’ Kevin De Bruyne was fortunate to stay on the pitch after avoiding a second yellow card for a foul on Ritchie just after the hour mark.
But, the final 25 minutes belonged to Newcastle, and once Benítez’s side got in front, a resolute backline rarely looked like affording City the chance to draw level.
“They scored in the first minute, which was crazy, but Rafa always tells us that no matter what happens in the game, he doesn’t want to see anybody putting their heads down,” Atsu said. “It was a big encouragement for us that, after we conceded, everybody was clapping, everybody was trying to encourage each other, and we continued with our game-plan. We stuck together and focussed on the game, and at the end, we won it.
“We knew that we’d have to (win) fouls and that set-pieces would be very important. We tried to press at the right time – we knew that to press them all the time would be very difficult – and we defended together, stayed together, closed the penetrating passes and pushed them wide. And they couldn’t create many chances.
“This win is very important for us because we are fighting a relegation battle. We keep pushing, we keep working hard, and we always believe.”
"Our aim this season is to make sure we stay up for the fans, for our families and for everyone that’s supporting Newcastle. With the fans behind us, supporting us and shouting, it gives us a lot of strength and motivation to keep going. As players, we know they deserve better, and tonight I think they’re going to be very happy going home."