Benitez shuns table as Newcastle enjoy lofty perch

Nichole Vega
September 18, 2017

Newcastle United captain Jamaal Lascelles scored the victor as Rafa Benitez's side beat Stoke City 2-1 at St James' Park on Saturday to post their third successive Premier League victory.

Newcastle took the lead through Christian Atsu in the first half, but should have wrapped the game up before half time.

It was the ideal way for Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez, recovered from a post-operation infection, to celebrate his return to the dugout after he missed Lascelles scoring the victor at Swansea last weekend.

The Spanish manager returned to the touchline after missing last week's match and watched compatriot Joselu spurn a hat-trick of chances against his former club.

Stoke enjoyed a wealth of early possession and quickly looked the brighter of the two sides, although their encouraging start counted for little when Newcastle broke the deadlock in the 19th minute. Christian Atsu ghosts in at the far post and hammers home from Matt Ritchie's cross.

Elliot did come to Newcastle's rescue with 64 minutes gone when he turned away Mame Biram Diouf's goal-bound header from Shaqiri's cross.

The Toon Army, however, got their noses back in front after Jamaal Lascelles headed in a corner by Ritchie in the 68th minute.

(Owen Humphreys/PA) Atsu may score more spectacular goals, but the one he claimed against Stoke capped a fine team effort.

The Republic of Ireland global clawed Shaqiri's curling effort out of the top corner and beat away another shot before repelling Diouf's goal-bound header.

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