Thursday, December 14, 2017

Newcastle United 2 Stoke City 1: Lascelles strikes again to make it three straight wins

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 16 Sep 2017

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A Matt Ritchie masterclass guided Newcastle United to a 2-1 home win over Stoke City as the Magpies recorded their best start to a Premier League campaign since 2011-12.

Having netted the winner against Swansea last weekend, Jamal Lascelles again rose high to head the hosts to a third straight top-flight victory for the first time in almost three years.

Christian Atsu earlier opened the scoring inside 19 minutes from a superb Ritchie cross, before Xherdan Shaqiri’s excellent strike restored parity after the restart.

But Ritchie picked out his skipper from a late corner for the second week to extend Rafael Benitez’s unbeaten streak against Stoke to six matches.

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.

However, Mark Hughes’ side were unable to make the most of the reprieves as their five-match unbeaten run against Newcastle came to an end.

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.

After his role in last week’s victory, Scotland winger Ritchie was again the architect for the opener, curling a perfect cross to the far post for Atsu to volley home.

An unmarked Joselu could well have doubled the advantage against his former side when Chancel Mbemba’s delivery dropped in behind Stoke’s defence, but the Spaniard awkwardly directed a first-time finish past Jack Butland’s left upright.

Joselu was again guilty of failing to make the Potters pay just moments later, the 27-year-old this time unable to beat Butland in a one-on-one when Ayoze Perez’s deflected strike fell kindly in the area.

The trend continued immediately after the restart as Joselu made it a trio of wasted opportunities by inexplicably firing over at close-range after Kevin Wimmer misread Atsu’s left-sided cross.

Magpies goalkeeper Rob Elliot was required to make a rare save when he palmed away Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting’s firm drive as Hughes’ side warmed to the contest.

And the hosts’ string of missed chances came back to haunt them when Shaqiri took a pair of touches outside the box before curling a fine low finish inside the right post.

Elliot next pushed Mame Biram Diouf’s header over the bar, before a recovering Kurt Zouma was deemed to have got a vital touch on the ball when he halted Atsu’s progress in the area just as the attacker looked destined to double his tally.

It mattered little though as Ritchie and Lascelles combined to restore Newcastle’s lead, the defender credited with the goal as he challenged Wimmer in heading home a corner.

And the captain’s effort proved to be a winning intervention for the home side for the second time in as many weeks, with Chuopo-Moting blasting over a gilt-edge final chance for the Potters to snatch a point.

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