Newcastle United climbed out of the Premier League’s bottom three as Aleksandar Mitrovic’s goal secured a 1-0 victory over West Brom.
Steve McClaren’s side were dominant throughout Saturday’s encounter and Mitrovic’s 33rd-minute strike ultimately sealed three crucial points at St James’ Park.
Mitrovic’s day had looked like being one of frustration after seeing chances blocked and being flagged for offside as Cheick Tiote fired home from distance.
Albion struggled to impose themselves on proceedings and as a result were limited to half-chances, Rob Elliot rarely called into action in the Newcastle goal.
Georginio Wijnaldum failed to double Newcastle’s lead just after the hour with a poor header, before Mitrovic and Andros Townsend also saw chances go begging.
A second win in three matches at home for Newcastle sees the move above Norwich City – who lost 2-0 to Aston Villa – while keeping West Brom firmly with them in the relegation battle.
With the visitors opting for a defensive 4-5-1 formation it was Newcastle who enjoyed the lion’s share of possession in the opening minutes, their pace and power from midfield causing all kinds of problems.
Resolute defending saw Jonas Olsson deny Wijnaldum, before Ben Foster made a two saves in quick succession from Townsend and Mitrovic – the latter from two yards out.
A Craig Gardner free-kick gave a warning of West Brom’s threat on the break, but they were unable to sustain it as Newcastle continued to dominate.
With half an hour played Tiote saw a long-range screamer controversially ruled out, the home crowd up in arms as Mitrovic was penalised for being in Foster’s line of sight.
The hosts only had to wait two minutes for the opener to come, though, as Jonjo Shelvey split the West Brom defence with an inch-perfect pass to Mitrovic, the striker making amends with a cool finish past the onrushing Foster from 18 yards.
Tony Pulis introduced Saido Berahino and Alex Pritchard at the break to try to spark his side into life and it had the desired impact as Albion developed more of an attacking threat.
Pritchard’s close control and creativity, combined with Berahino’s link-up play with Victor Anichebe, tested the Newcastle defence for the first time, but they were wasteful with the openings they created.
Wijnaldum should have punished their profligacy after 66 minutes as Townsend delivered a pinpoint cross for the Netherlands international, but he inexplicably headed over from an unmarked position.
Townsend almost capped his home debut with a goal two minutes later as he twisted away from his marker, only for the post to deny him.
Newcastle nerves were heightened as West Brom pushed for a late equaliser, Pritchard missing their best opportunity with a 30-yard free-kick that failed to dip enough to stretch Elliot, as the hosts secured a much-needed win.
Key Opta Stats:
– Newcastle United won back-to-back games at home in the Premier League for the first time since December 2014.
– West Brom have won none of their last seven Premier League away trips (W0 D3 L4).
– Jonjo Shelvey has recorded as many assists in his four Premier League games with Newcastle as he did in 16 with Swansea this season (two for each side in 20 games).
– Newcastle ended a run of nine Premier League games without a clean sheet. It
was their first clean sheet in the competition since the start of December.
– West Brom have won just one of their 10 away trips to St James’’Park in the Premier League (D2 L7).