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8th Win in a Row Keeps Magpies Top of the Table

Newcastle United recorded yet another win, this time at St James' Park against lowly Cardiff.

Newcastle United v Cheltenham Town: EFL Cup
Yoan Gouffran controls the ball with his chest
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Chelsea loanee Christian Atsu scored his second goal in just his third league start for the club to get the Magpies off to a flying start. Aleksandar Mitrovic played a neat one-two with Ayoze Perez, who started in place of Mohamed Diame, before faking past one challenge and squaring for the unmarked Atsu to fire home. His first goal in front of the Geordie faithful.

Cardiff did prove a much more stern test than the likes of Ipswich and Brentford, though. With the home side failing to take advantage of some good chances, Paul Dummett perhaps the biggest culprit. The home crowd of 51,257 were almost stunned into silence in the 23rd minute when Craig Noone, who appeared offside, smashed a left-footed shot across Karl Darlow's goal which went inches wide.

The visitors' best moments for the remainder of the opening half come from the long throwing ability of midfielder Aron Gunnarsson. His long throws caused little inklings of confusion within the United box, but the defence, led by Jamaal Lascelles, looked relatively comfortable.

On the stroke of half time, Newcastle had seemingly put the game out of sight. DeAndre Yedlin, who was impressive yet again, slotted through Yoan Gouffran, who had timed his run well. The revitalized Frenchman then angled the ball into the far corner on the half turn. His fourth goal of a remarkable campaign.

After the break, Newcastle again raced out of the blocks, with Mitrovic and Atsu being denied early on. A sense of complacency did then appear to creep into the home side's play. The St James' crowd attempted to waken up those in Black and White, especially after ex-Southampton and West Brom striker Rickie Lambert had a brilliant chance to reduce the deficit, which he scuffed wide. The big Englishman spurned another chance, only after Atsu and Mitrovic again had a chance each to kill the game off. Atsu blazing a shot over the bar, before Mitrovic could only side foot wide.

Sensing they could yet snatch a point from the game, Cardiff manager Neil Warnock threw on attacking reinforcements in the form of Peter Whittingham and Marouane Chamakh. It was the former that provided the Bluebirds with a goal on 77 minutes, moments after entering the fray. After a huge shout from the crowd, who were convinced of a handball in the build up, the substitute rifled a shot low to the right hand corner of the Newcastle net.

Anxiety levels did begin to increase as the clock ran down. The Welsh side did look the more likely to score, again using the long throw and a much more direct approach to pepper the Toon goal. Mo Diame did come on late on to help to see the game out, and Newcastle did look solid, even with Cardiff throwing all they could at them. They did come close to an equaliser deep into stoppage time, when Gunnarsson's throw was flicked just over the bar. A very nervy finish, but that was that.

Newcastle 2-1 Cardiff it finished. Three points for Rafa Benitez's men once again, who now sit eight points clear of third-placed Huddersfield at the top of the Championship table. There is still a long way to go, and many matches to play between now and May, but there is definitely lots of reasons to be optimistic about Newcastle United. It is wins like this that separates the best from the rest in this division. Onwards and upwards. Now we just have to try and get through another international break.