Christian Atsu’s excellent dinked free-kick and a brilliant Isaac Hayden effort helped Newcastle United beat Cardiff City 2-0 and keep their slim Championship title hopes alive.
The Magpies routed Preston North End 4-1 on Monday, a match in which Atsu scored, to secure an immediate return to the Premier League.
That win was soured slightly as two days later the club were subject to raids as part of a wider investigation into fraud in English football.
But it was back to business on the pitch at the Cardiff City Stadium and Atsu’s moment of brilliance was followed by Hayden’s fine long-range effort to leave Rafael Benitez’s men a point off leaders Brighton and Hove Albion – who will be champions with a match to spare if they beat Bristol City on Saturday.
FULL TIME Cardiff City 0-2 Newcastle United
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) April 28, 2017
The first half proved a tepid affair with Cardiff correctly seeing goals for Sean Morrison and Junior Hoilett ruled out for a foul and offside respectively, while DeAndre Yedlin’s low drive that Allan McGregor saved was the best Newcastle could muster.
Former Brighton man Craig Noone scuffed a presentable volley wide shortly after the break, and that was punished in the 55th minute when Atsu expertly lofted a free-kick from 20 yards into the top-right corner.
Cardiff had no way back when Hayden’s well-struck drive picked out the bottom-left corner 10 minutes later and, although the action became more end-to-end, Newcastle comfortably saw out the match to rack up a record number of away points in a league season and leave Brighton with work still to do.
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