Last night, Newcastle beat Aston Villa 2-0 at St James’ Park thanks to a goal from Yoan Gouffran and an own goal from Henri Lansbury. This result takes Newcastle back to the top of the table.
Rafa Benitez started a team of Karl Darlow in net; DeAndre Yedlin, Jamaal Lascelles, Ciaran Clark and Paul Dummett in defence; Matt Ritchie, Jonjo Shelvey, Jack Colback and Yoan Gouffran in midfield; with Mo Diame and Dwight Gayle in attack. This team had two changes from the side that draw 2-2 to Norwich, with Mitrovic and Perez being dropped for Diame and Gayle. Gayle returned from a hamstring injury which sidelined him for over a month but had to be taken off in the first half with another potential hamstring injury.
Aston Villa fielded a side of Johnstone, Hutton, Chester, Elphick, Taylor, Jedinak, Bjarnason, Lansbury, Hourihane, Kodjia and Hogan.
Newcastle started the half sluggishly, not attacking well and letting Villa get shots on goal off. Kodjia almost got lucky when his shot bobbled up towards goal, Darlow had to tip it over the net. The deadlock was finally broken when Gouffran knocked in a loose ball after a scramble in the box from a corner. It was a scrappy goal but it was a goal nonetheless. That goal was the spark Newcastle needed as they played so much better after that.
15 minutes into the second half, Shelvey got a chance when he knuckleballed a freekick, channelling his inner CR7 but the keeper knocked it out from a corner. From the same corner, Henri Lansbury accidently knocked the ball into his own net. Poetic justice. More than enough payback for his pathetic actions against Newcastle in December when he played for Nottingham Forrest.
Villa almost got a goal when Bjarnason went through on goal with only the keeper to beat but another stupendous save from Darlow denied the away side. Jack Colback of all people almost scored when he surged through Aston Villa’s defence but was denied by Johnstone. By now, the home side were playing with confidence and weren’t letting Villa get anything from the game. But the half was marred by the injury to Scott Hogan when he went right over on his ankle, it looked very painful. That was the last major moment of the match as Newcastle ran out 2-0 victors. Newcastle are now a point clear of Brighton in second place. Last night was a scrappy win but at the end of the day, they all count. The mark of champions, as they say.
Feature Image credit: Martin Le Roy