Newcastle United eased their relegation fears as they grabbed a vital 3-0 win against Swansea at St James’ Park on Saturday afternoon.
A goal in the first half from Jamaal Lascelles and two in the second from Moussa Sissoko and Andros Townsend secured the win for the Magpies.
Newcastle made five changes from the side that played in the 3-1 loss Southampton. Jonjo Shelvey and Aleksandar Mitrovic were dropped as Papiss Cisse, Cheick Tiote, Jack Colback, Paul Dummett, and Lascelles all came in.
Swansea’s Francesco Guidolin named an unchanged team from last Saturday’s famous 1-0 victory against Chelsea.
Newcastle started the better side; Lukasz Fabianski had to claw out a mishit cross and get down smartly to save from Andros Townsend inside the first ten minutes.
The home side continued to work hard and win the second balls, with Tiote dominating the centre of the park and Townsend looking threatening on the flank. However, despite their endeavour, there was little in the way of goalmouth action.
Colback saw a shot saved on the half hour mark and Jefferson Montero blazed wide at the other end.
The breakthrough for Benitez’s men came on the stroke of half-time as Lascelles headed in a well-taken corner from Townsend. He was being held back by the Swansea defence, but powered through to nod in via a deflection off Fabianski.
The first real chance of the second half didn’t arrive until the 55th minute – Andre Ayew picked up the ball from Swansea and unleashed a venomous shot that appeared to be heading for the net, but Chancel Mbemba threw himself in front of the ball to make a fantastic block.
As the game wore on Newcastle started to sit deeper and deeper, and more and more chances were coming Swansea’s way. Ashley Williams fired just wide from 12 yards, Gomis lashed over from the edge of the area, and Montero missed a sitter from eight yards.
The home fans were getting nervous, but their worries were allayed ten minutes from time when Moussa Sissoko scored. The ball took several deflections and ricochets after a corner, but it ended up at the feet of the big man who swung a hopeful foot at it and blasted it into the back of the net.
The game was wrapped up in the 88th minute when Aleksandar Mitrovic played in Andros Townsend who cooly slotted under Fabianski.
The result means Newcastle are now on 28 points, just three behind Norwich and safety – and they have a game in hand on the Canaries. Swansea stay 15th with 40 points.
Next up for Newcastle are a pair of tough games – home to Champions League semi-finalists Man City on Tuesday, then away at Europa League semi-finalists Liverpool next weekend.
Swansea are away at Leicester next Sunday – they are not playing midweek.