Last night Newcastle beat Huddersfield 3-1 away from home. This result takes Newcastle five points clear of Brighton and a huge 11 clear of Huddersfield. The fact that Brighton lost 3-0 to Nottingham Forrest makes the result even sweeter.
Rafa Benitez fielded a team of Karl Darlow in goal; Anita, Clark, Lascelles and Dummett in defence; Atsu, Ritchie, Shelvey and Colback in midfield; and Diame and Murphy up front. This team has two changes from the side that beat Brighton 2-1 with Yedlin and Gouffran being dropped for Anita and Murphy respectively.
Huddersfield are notorious for playing a very high pressing system. So Rafa, knowing this, set his team up to stay compact and stop Wagner’s team pressing. Newcastle defended compactly and didn’t let Huddersfield have any room to play their game.
The scoring was opened in the first 10 minutes when Ritchie was fouled in the box and awarded a penalty. The Scotsman put the penalty away with ease. Whether it was a penalty or not I’m still not sure but I’m happy we got the early goal. 20 minutes after that Daryl Murphy doubled the scoreline after a mistake from goalkeeper Danny Ward. Ward trapped the ball and Murphy’s foot in his arms and when Murphy moved his foot, he took the ball with him. It’s obvious Ward didn’t have full control of the ball and it was left for Murphy to tap the ball in from an acute angle.
In the second half keeper Danny Ward was taken off with a dead leg.Then, just over 25 minutes into the second half, Shelvey brought down Elias Kachunga in the box and conceded a penalty. It was left to Aaron Mooy to put the ball into the back of the net and put the pressure on the away side. But any pressure was alleviated when Gayle went through on goal and killed off the game. Reserve goalkeeper Joel Coleman raced out of his box to head a loose ball away but Gayle (who is eight inches shorter than Coleman) headed the ball past him and it rolled straight into the net.
Yesterday’s performance was a great success, not just results wise but tactically. Newcastle completely neutralized Huddersfield’s press. The away side’s defending also stopped Huddersfield from getting any dangerous shots away. All of their shots were from too far away to cause Darlow any problems. So this match was a complete performance in all departments.