Half time: Swans 0
Ritchie's corner at the South end of the ground was met by the forehead of Jamaal
Lascelles, who rose above Alfie Mawson to plant a header into the back of
the net. Poetry.
Full time: Swans 0
Benitez was absent as he recovered from an operation to remove an infection
that had been present since surgery to repair a hernia two years ago.
Attempts to reach Tyneside from his home in the North West on Tuesday,
Wednesday & Thursday were all aborted as he remained in discomfort, with
coach Francisco de Miguel
Moreno aka Paco handling Friday's press conference).
After the match, Paco said:
"I feel very happy, very glad for the performance of the players.
"We expected them to play with five
at the back and we realised it was four but everything was as planned. We
tried to control their midfielders and attack down wide.
"Jamaal Lascelles has the spirit of a
captain, without doubt. He manages everything so well and is involved in all
"Mikel (Antia, coach) was on the touchline and Antonio (Gomez
Perez, coach) was in the stands communicating with Rafa. Between the four
of us we were making a plan of communication and it worked perfectly.
"After the game Rafa rang and he has congratulated everybody, especially the
players because they have done a massive job.
"We are very glad because we planned the game to try and win three points
and we did it.
"We were very serious in some stages of the game, we were very compact,
disciplined and worked hard together.
"We were very balanced between defence and attack and we are very pleased
with the team."
Goalscorer/goalsaver Jamaal Lascelles:
"We have set a standard now. We will be hard to beat back home but if we
play like this every week, we will do well. It is down to us to bring it every
"The manager rang me this morning and
told me to make sure the boys were on it. Hopefully he gets well soon and gets
back with us."
the margin of the defeat is small, I'm more disappointed with our performance.
"I'm really not satisfied with the way
we played. There was obviously a lot of expectation coming into the game with
new signings and old faces back at the club.
"Then there's the reality of going out
and playing and for me, we were second-best all afternoon - in the combats, the
duels, the first and second balls, in the tactics, in all aspects.
"That's not good enough and I take
responsibility for that performance. It's not one I'm very proud of and we've
got to move forward quickly and turn that around.
"It's collective responsibility and I'm
at the head of that. When I look at the performance and the week we had going
into it - really positive - I didn't expect that at all.
"That's why football can be so strange
sometimes. We had good training week, all our meetings were very good.
"I had a good feeling going into the
game with the atmosphere around the squad - then there's the actual game and
what I saw was not what I expected.
"Tammy's got around the goalkeeper at
0-0 and on another day we might have got something out of that.
"We pushed right at the end but didn't
get any real quality into the box that was going to hurt them. We kept going but
overall it wasn't good enough.
"I think there's going to be a lot from that game we could have done
Swans - all-time:
1934/35 won 4-3 Boyd, McMenemy, Murray, Weaver D2
1935/36 won 2-1 McMenemy, J. Smith D2
1936/37 won 2-1 Rogers, Smith D2
1937/38 lost 0-2 D2
1938/39 won 1-0 Clifton D2
1946/47 won 2-1 Shackleton, Wayman D2
1951/52 won 1-0 Mitchell FA
1961/62 lost 2-3 Thomas, Wright D2
1962/63 lost 0-1 D2
1963/64 won 1-0 Anderson D2
1964/65 lost 1-3 McGarry D2
1964/65 lost 0-1 FA
1979/80 won 3-2 Hibbitt, Rafferty, Shoulder D2
1980/81 lost 0-4 D2
1983/84 won 2-1 Wharton, Mills D2
2009/10 drew 1-1 Carroll Ch
2011/12 won 2-0 Cisse 2 PL
2012/13 lost 0-1 PL
2013/14 lost 0-3 PL
2014/15 drew 2-2 Cisse 2 PL
2015/16 lost 0-2 PL
2017/18 won 1-0 Lascelles PL
(At Liberty Stadium since 2009/10, Vetch Field before that)
United began the game with a record five Spanish nationals in their
starting lineup: Manquillo, Perez, Gamez, Merino and Joselu
(the latter who was born in Germany but raised in Spain).
Rafa Benitez saw his side end their winless away record in the top flight
at the thirteenth time of asking, since a 2-1 victory at Spurs in
Predecessor Steve McClaren then presided over six straight
losses before Rafa came in and oversaw three defeats
followed by two draws. That winless run then became 12 when we were
beaten 0-1 at Huddersfield last month.
None of the 14 players on duty here today featured on our last
visit here in August 2015 and the only one of the matchday 18 present two
years ago was Ayoze Perez, an unused sub that day.
Jamaal Lascelles netted his sixth competitive senior
goal for Newcastle - and the third in the Premier League:
2015/16 Watford (a) lost 1-2 header from corner
2015/16 Swansea (h) won 3-0 header from corner
2016/17 Brighton (h) won 2-0 header from free kick
2016/17 Norwich (a) drew 2-2 shot from cross
2016/17 Leeds (h) drew 1-1 header from cross
2017/18 Swansea (a) won 1-0 header from corner
Jesus Gamez made a first appearance in the
Premier League, becoming the 219th player to do so for the club.
His ninth senior competitive outing as a Magpie came in a fourth different
competition (5 Championship, 2 League Cup, 1 FA Cup, 1 Premier League).
The 32 year-old Spaniard comes 13th in a list of our oldest PL debutants
as follows (31 and over):
1. Pavel Srnicek* 38 years, nine months
2. Sol Campbell 36 years, 0 months
3. Tommy Wright* 35 years, 11 months
4. Ian Rush 35 years, 10 months
5. Ronny Johnsen 35 years, five months
6. Stuart Pearce 35 years, three months
7. Shefki Kuqi 34 years, three months
8. John Barnes 33 years, 10 months
9. Kevin Gallacher 32 years, 10 months
10.Lee Clark* 32 years, nine months
11.Lamine Diatta 32 years, nine months
12.Peter Beardsley 32 years, eight months
13.Jesus Gamez 32 years, five months
14.Antoine Sibierski 32 years, one month
15.Brian Kilcline 31 years, seven months
16.Franck Dumas 31 years, six months
17.Claudio Cacapa 31 years, two months
18.Paul Bracewell 31 years, 0 months
* second PL debut
years since we last sat round the same table in the same pub a short walk from
the ground, a Swansea supporter acknowledged our return with a simple "welcome
back" as he passed by.
The surroundings - and spectators - may be unchanged, but an entirely new
Newcastle team to that which took to the field at the Liberty Stadium in 2015
were in action here today - and ultimately gained their reward for a vastly
better approach and attitude.
That last visit saw Steve McClaren in charge for his second game, overseeing a
non-performance that we labelled "woeful" and armed with a game plan
that seemed to consist only of getting back across the Severn Bridge before
may have prevented Rafa from seeing his first Premier League away win as
Newcastle boss first-hand today, but his hallmarks of preparation and
organisation were still more than evident.
The coaching staff relayed instructions as the manager tuned in at home, with a
helicopter placed on standby to ferry him the 170 miles from the Wirral
Captain's performance from Jamaal Lascelles with crucial interventions at both
ends of the field was the story of this game, but the whole side contributed
to a first top-flight success since that at White Hart Lane in December 2015 -
long-overdue, given that venue no longer even exists.....
Following a first half in which United had fashioned the better chances and
failed to score only due to a fabulous block from Lukas Fabianski to deny
Joselu, the first headlining action from Jamaal was to block a goalbound shot
from Tammy Abraham after the on-loan striker had got round Rob Elliot.
That came on the hour and a shade over 15 minutes later, Lascelles was
receiving congratulations from his colleagues again - this time at the other
end of the pitch having headed home a corner by birthday boy Matt Ritchie.
Those two passages of play were backed up by solid and committed performances
across the field from a side including Jesus Gamez at
left back - who gave easily his best display for the club and made up what he
may have lacked in speed with guile.
It's not a moment too soon for the former Malaga and Atletico Madrid full back
though, perceived as one of Rafa's failed signings and seeing centre half
Chancel Mbemba preferred to him at left back against West Ham - even though
Gamez had played in that position previously in his career.
Whether Mbemba would have continued there today if he hadn't injured himself on
international duty isn't clear, but with Paul Dummett knacked, Massadio
Haidara not fit enough to be risked and Jack Colback out of favour, it was
high time for Gamez to justify his presence in the squad.
With Aleksandar Mitrovic beginning a three game ban and Dwight Gayle starting on
the bench, Joselu retained his starting place and again impressed with his
willingness to fight fairly for the cause.
Pick of the midfielders meanwhile was Mikel Merino - rapidly becoming a
terrace idol and an absolute pleasure to watch, aside from his Tayloresque
dive in the box. He also combined well with
Isaac Hayden, who put in a good shift despite being burdened with a very early
booking. Jonjo Shelvey won't automatically walk back into this team on
Once ahead, United proved equal to a couple of home corners and were able see
out the additional five minutes without any major upsets - the returning
Wilfried Bony showing the form that left him trailing Peter Crouch in Stoke
City's striker selection last season....
Back to back victories then - and one to be particularly savoured by those who
defied Sky's wicked match scheduling to get here, and will do it all again in
a fortnight when those cynical bastards send us to Brighton on a Sunday
afternoon. No agenda though, they just don't like us.
That this win came against potential rivals was even more important than
raising the general mood around the club though - taking three points off this
lot could be the difference between staying up and going down.
Our most recent relegation included a double over
Spurs, victory over Liverpool and draws against Manchester City, Manchester
United, Chelsea and Liverpool. Watford did the double over us.
Victory today left United tenth in the table with six points from
four games - a total that took them eight attempts to reach in 2014 and nine
the year after.
Coming back from this game, mention was made of the banner infamously
displayed by Newcastle fans at Leicester in 2015 ("we don't demand a
team that wins, we demand a club that tries.")
On the evidence of today, we at least look to have a team that tries.
Welcome back indeed.