Newcastle are three points clear at the top of the Sky Bet Championship after a decisive 3-0 win over Ipswich Town, making it their 10th Championship win from 12 games.
The Magpies dominated the game from the very off as Spaniard, Ayoze Perez, volleyed home the opening the goal in just 60 seconds – recording the fastest goal in the English Championship this season.
Perez’s early effort became his fifth goal of the season and was scored in true fashion. After a fantastic pass from Shelvey, a phrase we’re not getting tired of hearing, to spread the play to the right-side Paul Dummett’s cross was flicked on by Gayle and left Perez to bury it. 1-0.
United’s next attack came on the 7th minute when DeAndre Yedlin used his pace, up the right again, and floated a ball into the box where Dwight Gayle’s close-range effort sailed over the bar, but showed the intent that the Magpies had for the afternoon.
Ipswich gathered some momentum and applied pressure on United’s back-four after a slow start in the opening moments of the game. The Tractor boys came close to leveling the score on the 12th-minute mark when former Newcastle United striker, Leon Best, managed to get his shot off and it pinged off the bar, causing needed problems for the 51,963 fans in St James’ Park.
Momentum quickly changed minutes later, when Dwight Gayle brought the bar down and did well to get in behind the Ipswich defence and lay it off to Ritchie, who’s effort was deflected wide. This relentless Magpies pressure would become the story of the day that would end in defeat for the traveling Ipswich fans.
Newcastle once again got forward, this time through a mighty run from Yedlin who found Gouffran and his resulting shot was rocketed over the bar, not threatening Bialkowski whatsoever.
The hosts greatly dominated the majority of the opening moments of the game, controlling the possession in the middle of the park. Darren Webster showed a glimpse of hope for the travelling team after his run from his own half, opened up a chance on goal but his effort missed wide.
For the most part of the game Benitez’s game plan worked – forcing Ipswich to sit deeper and deeper, whilst Gouffran and Perez worked well to keep pressure high up in the opposition half.
The biggest outrage of the game, came in the 35th minute where there was a strong penalty shout after Dwight Gayle made a run into Bialkowski’s box, only to be met by a crunching challenge of the traveling keeper. However, referee James Adock waved the challenge away and gave out no bookings.
United took a 1-0 lead into the dressing room at half-time, but Mick McCarthy’s men must have been given quite a rousing half-time team talk as they battled hard in the opening 15 minutes of the second-half.
Ipswich keeper, Bialkowski, got down to make a big save after Yoan Gouffran’s strike throated the traveling teams goal. Over the course of the next ten minutes Ipswich began to take control and look the better side – the Magpies grew sloppy with possession and seemed to lose all confidence in front of goal.
The tractor boys managed to rally an effort through substitute David McGoldrick, but Karl Darlow made a sublime to deny Ipswich a chance to level the match.
From the 60th minute, Newcastle then upped the pressure and mounted attempt after attempt – Perez getting the first, after Gouffran cut inside to link up with Spaniard before his shot was palmed away with ease by Bialkowski.
On the 74th minute mark, Newcastle’s break eventually came and their grasp own the game became tighter. To the delight of the home fas it was Ayoze Perez who netted the Magpies the second, after a neat ball from Ritchie found the awaiting Perez, from 15 yards out, who had no troubles burying his shot into the back of the net. 2-0.
Just moments later, in the 79th minute, it was a complete role reversal as this time it was Perez who set-up Ritchie, to extend the Magpies lead to 3-0. Both players were involved in nice link-up play, which lead to Ritchie running onto the ball, inside the box, and finished off the effort into the far bottom of the corner with the outside of his foot. 3-0. Game over.
When the final whistle blew, it was the end to another good day for Benitez’s men who gritted out a fantastic result and their 5th league win in a row and their 12th in fourteen games in all competitions – a routine win then.
Similarly, the three goals scored in Saturday’s fixture marked the 50th goal capped underneath Benitez’s leadership and in the last 14 games, Unites have scored 30 goals and only conceded 11. A monumental record at this stage in the Championship season, nicely setting up the Magpies three-point lead atop the table.
After the clash, United boss Rafa Benitez commented:
“It’s another good win, because it’s not easy to win in this completion. We played really well in the first half, we had changed and could have scored more goals but we didn’t do it so we had to work hard in the second half.”
“It’s important to keep confidence high and the only way is working hard. We know every game is difficult and we have to be ready.”
Opposition manager, Mick McCarthy, also spoke highly of the league leaders, saying:
“We were beaten by the best team, beaten by the champions if anything. If you see a better team than this year I’d be surprised. I’ve just spoken to the players and there’s not a lot more we could have done. We tried everything to stop them.”
“They were better than us, they are better than us, and they will be champions in my view. They are a very good team and we got what we deserved”.
Next up for United is a difficult EFL cup tie against form side Preston, on Tuesday night, and then again will face them in the league on Sunday. We should, expect more changes and hopefully another win.