NEWCASTLE: It has come to one thing when Newcastle United, the group that might not purchase a win in late 2021, are claiming three factors regardless of not taking part in properly.
Nevertheless, that’s precisely what they did at St. James’ Park as they noticed off prime half Brighton & Hove Albion to make it eight video games unbeaten within the prime flight, their longest unbeaten run since late 2011.
Most significantly, although, these three factors, coupled with defeat for Burnley towards Chelsea, stretched their hole to the underside three to seven factors, that means a brighter future, a Premier League future, feels inside touching distance.
The Magpies’ win was sealed within the opening 45 as man-of-the-moment Ryan Fraser netted solely his third aim in black and white from shut vary early doorways.
Fraser then turned supplier as Fabian Schar nodded in a free kick to ship St. James’ Park into raptures.
Brighton did reply within the second half as Lewis Dunk beat Martin Dubravka to the soar to half the deficit, however the guests couldn’t muster a deserved second regardless of loads of late huff and puff.
Profitable ugly is just not one thing Newcastle followers are all that accustomed to, however they’ll take all of it the identical.
Regardless of the return of Allan Saint-Maximin to the squad registering early headlines, the Frenchman may solely win a spot on the bench with Eddie Howe going unchanged for the third Premier League recreation in succession.
Whereas Graham Potter’s facet have been simply the extra fluent and straightforward on the attention, Newcastle proved the extra medical within the first half.
Newcastle’s midfield, so spectacular in controlling proceedings towards West Ham and Brentford, didn’t have issues all their very own method towards the Seagulls, who moved the ball from left to proper, with overlapping fullbacks, at will.
Nevertheless, that strategy did go away gaps on the again, and United have been in no temper to let that go unexploited.
Fraser, nominated for the Premier League participant of the month, was a continuing thorn within the opposition facet, and it was he whose lung-busting run was rewarded together with his second aim of the season.
With Brighton hemming Newcastle into their very own half and simply trying the extra more likely to rating, a sensible flip and move by Chris Wooden, in what was his most spectacular efficiency since arriving, unleashed pacey Jacob Murphy by the center.
Exhibiting the Brighton backline a clear set of heels, the wideman solely had the keeper to beat, and whereas his chipped end rebounded again off the publish, Fraser, who had burst ahead in assist, was rewarded with the simplest of finishes as he finessed previous a variety of sprawling Brighton our bodies on the road.
If the primary felt prefer it was a blow towards the run of play, the second was much more of a shock.
Inside minutes the Magpies gained a free kick on the fitting, and swinging within the middle was Fraser for Schar, whose striker-like dart away from a defender noticed him meet the cross powerfully, beating Robert Sanchez at his entrance publish.
To that time, it was exhausting to argue that Newcastle deserved the lead, however given their season’s plight, they’re removed from undeserving of a slice of luck and goodwill.
On the half hour the guests, smarting from their defensive capitulation, seemed to chunk again. A poor ball from Joelinton, a uncommon slip, allowed Brighton to interrupt, and having been performed in, Danny Welbeck’s effort was met with the robust body of Martin Dubravka, who diverted over the bar.
Two targets down, Brighton continued to play their soccer, however the probabilities, in the principle, fell the best way of Newcastle.
On the eve of the break, a slip by goal-scorer Dunk allowed Murphy the prospect to internet a 3rd, however his left-footed effort was weak and straightforward for Sanchez to say.
After the break, little modified when it comes to the circulation of this one, with Newcastle pinned again and Brighton the aggressor.
Their lifeline got here at 55 minutes when Dunk rose above Dubravka to go in for 2-1. Cue a St. James’ Park siege as wave after wave of Brighton forays ahead have been repelled by Emil Krafth and the more and more spectacular Dan Burn.
Seeking to relieve the stress, Howe turned to Saint-Maximin and record-signing Bruno Guimaraes off the bench. It did little to stem the circulation of Brighton assaults.
Leandro Trossard, so typically a game-changer towards the Magpies, compelled Dubravka right into a low cease as time ticked away.
However with the house crowd roaring them on, Newcastle held robust to climb to twenty-eight factors from 26 video games this season, the primary time they’ve been forward of the curve on the subject of factors per recreation this marketing campaign.
And lengthy might it proceed. This was a efficiency for the purists. It lacked the swagger of the West Ham draw, the reducing fringe of Everton or Aston Villa, even the management of Brentford final week. However there was one factor it didn’t lack: Coronary heart.
Below Howe, there’s a lot to love about this United facet, who appear to be a group reworked from the one which limped into 2022 with a defeat towards League One Cambridge United.
They aren’t the completed article, of that there isn’t any doubt, however what group ever is? Effectively, bar Manchester Metropolis possibly, or prime Pep Guardiola Barcelona.
This group, and Howe, are studying on the job, and having mastered the artwork of successful within the Premier League, the one method feels up for United, on and off the park.