Newcastle United stretched their unbeaten run to eight Premier League games as they narrowly defeated Brighton and Hove Albion by two goals to one.
By just a quarter of the way through the game, the Magpies notched two goals in as many minutes when Ryan Fraser’s strike was followed by a towering Fabian Schar header.
Lewis Dunk scored a header of his own 10 minutes after half-time to set up a nervy end to the game but Eddie Howe’s men hung on to move seven points clear of the bottom three.
Harry Roy looks at the five key talking points from Saturday’s game.
Newcastle find a way to win without being at their best
It’s what good teams do, isn’t it? They come out with the victory, despite not being at their brilliant best.
That’s what Newcastle did on Saturday – and it arguably made this recent triumph the most satisfying one to date.
Leading up to the two quickfire Toon goals, Brighton were controlling the game and looked the most likely to score.
Certainly in the second half, Graham Potter’s side were the clearly better side, forcing the Magpies into what Howe calls ‘survival mode’ for large parts of the game after Dunk got one back for Albion.
It was a match a few months ago that this Newcastle side would’ve crumbled, and probably would’ve gone on to lose.
Their opposition will feel aggrieved to have left St James’ Park empty-handed, but it’s telling that Newcastle can now get ‘over the line’ in these matches.
Ryan Fraser’s recent success is all down to fitness
Fresh from being nominated for ‘player of the month’ in midweek, Ryan Fraser put in another top-drawer performance, grabbing a goal and an assist.
The Scotsman was a thorn in the side of Brighton throughout, causing chaos down the left-hand side, highlighted by him drawing three fouls.
Some had written off Fraser ever succeeding in a Newcastle shirt, with the 28-year-old mainly on the fringes of the side under previous boss Steve Bruce.
What is forgotten is that he arrived on Tyneside a week before the new season after over six months of no football after leaving Bournemouth, leaving him subsequently on the backfoot.
The quality Fraser possesses was always there to see – and it was seen in glimpses before Howe’s arrival – but it shows that improved fitness and a solid run of games was all that was needed to get back to his best.
Chris Wood may not be scoring, but he’s having a huge impact on this team
Eddie Howe said in his post-match press conference that Chris Wood was ‘magnificent for the team’ – and it’s hard to disagree with him.
The £2million man played a key role in the opening goal, coming deep in his own half to win the ball before turning Dunk and playing an inch-perfect ball through to Jacob Murphy.
You can imagine Wood’s frustrations, however. He was brought in to score goals while Callum Wilson continues to recover from a calf injury, something he hasn’t done to date.
But he is having a huge impact on his team, in particular with his ability to win aerial duels that takes defenders out of the game, giving the likes of Fraser and Allan Saint-Maximin an easier life in the process.
Dan Burn for England
Six clearances, two key blocks, four aerial duels won and four interceptions won.
All in a day’s work for Dan Burn as he put in another man of the match performance.
The centre-back was faultless once again for his boyhood club, making that £13m fee paid in January look a real snip.
If Burn keeps this form up, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him given an England call-up at the end of the month.
It’s time to break up Jonjo-Joe-Joe and unleash Bruno from the off
Bruno Guimaraes had over 50,000 people’s hearts in their mouths when in the 94th minute he – under a swarm of frantic fans shouting at him to clear the ball – decided to dribble with the ball in his own box instead of lashing it to safety.
He went on to win a free-kick which bought the Magpies more time and ultimately got the game over the line.
But, if anything, it showed the confidence he possesses in his game, something Newcastle are going to need if they want to keep their unbeaten run intact at Southampton on Thursday.
It’s harsh to fault – or drop – any of the current midfield three but with three games in seven days incoming, it’s arguably the best time to bring the Brazilian international into the starting line-up.