Benitez: 41 points an “amazing achievement” for promoted Newcastle

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Rafa Benitez has done a heck of a job with very few resources, and Newcastle United is now as close to 7th as it is to the drop zone following a 2-1 comeback win over Arsenal at St. James’ Park on Sunday.

[ RECAP: Newcastle 2-1 Arsenal ]

Matt Ritchie and Ayoze Perez had the goals, with goalkeeper Martin Dubravka and captain Jamaal Lascelles just as important to the effort against a much-changed by powerful Gunners side.

Unable to land any of his top striker targets, Benitez got an assist from Leicester loanee Islam Slimani in the win that kept Newcastle unbeaten at home since the start of the new year.

Rumors of a club takeover and Benitez quitting abounded this winter, but the Magpies have rebounded behind a defense which has conceded the seventh-fewest goals in the league.

“I think we are safe with 41 points. It’s a massive achievement for the players, the city and the fans. I want to congratulate everyone.

“Today we didn’t play amazing football because we played an amazing team but you have to manage how you play and compete for the win.”

Newcastle has a match-in-hand on ninth-place Everton, and can leapfrog the Toffees with a win at Goodison Park next week. Not bad for a team which sat in 18th when the Gunners beat them 1-o in December.

Newcastle comes back to top Arsenal

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  • Lacazette scores early
  • Perez levels, assists winner
  • Slimani impacts off bench

Matt Ritchie‘s second half goal helped Newcastle United to a 2-1 comeback win over Arsenal at St. James’ Park on Sunday.

Alexandre Lacazette and Ayoze Perez traded first half goals as Newcastle stayed unbeaten at home in 2018.

The 10th place Magpies now have 41 points, 13 clear of relegation with five to play.

Arsenal remains sixth with 54 points.

Mesut Ozil, Jack Wilshere, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan were among the Arsenal players rested after completing its defeat of CSKA Moscow in Europa League play on Thursday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Though Newcastle was on the front foot, with Kenedy forcing an early save out of Petr Cech, the Gunners went ahead when Lacazette feasted off the work of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Magpies keeper Martin Dubravka stopped to collect an Alex Iwobi effort in the 20th minute as the Gunners grew further into the control.

Newcastle went level through Perez, who flicked DeAndre Yedlin‘s cross past Cech as the match reached the half hour mark.

Arsenal quickly regained control, and probably should’ve been ahead on multiple occasions including a point-blank miss by debutant Joe Willock.

Ritchie put Newcastle ahead in the 69th minute, with substitute Islam Slimani winning a header that Perez nudged to the Scot.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Newcastle United 1-0 Huddersfield: Dominant Magpies break through

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  • Magpies miss myriad chances before Perez finishes late
  • Town remains in relegation trouble
  • Magpies’ third-straight home shutout

Ayoze Perez’s late goal sent Newcastle United seven points clear of the drop zone with a 1-0 win over visiting Huddersfield Town at St. James’ Park on Saturday.

Town is just three points clear of the drop after the win, with David Wagner‘s men outclassed aside from a late push.

Chelsea loanee Kenedy now has two goals and two assists in seven matches for Rafa Benitez.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Town’s Aaron Mooy gave away a dangerous set piece and picked up a yellow card for a two-footed takedown of Ayoze Perez, and Newcastle presided over a 25-yard free kick just left of center. Jonjo Shelvey‘s effort was partially blocked by the wall.

The Magpies were buzzing, with Dwight Gayle having a bicycle kick blocked and Shelvey just missing the far post with his rebound bid.

Jonas Lossl slid to deny Matt Ritchie in the 16th minute, the visitors alive despite the early frenzy.

Shelvey used a quick free start to send Gayle 1v1 with Lossl, but the English striker’s cheeky chip was wayward. And Gayle lifted a DeAndre Yedlin cross over the bar in the 33rd. Messy.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

There was more Newcastle as the second half began, and the hard-tackling Magpies had the Terriers on the ground a few times over the first five minutes.

Newcastle was finally rewarded, with substitutes Christian Atsu and Islam Slimani (on debut) making an impact. Perez found Atsu on the right, and Slimani challenged Lossl for the cross before the ball fell to Kenedy. The Brazilian squared the ball to Perez for the finish.

Slimani won an 85th minute free kick, and Shelvey rocketed it over the bar.

PL roundup: Man Utd best Liverpool; Newcastle safe?

AP Photo/Rui Vieira
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Get caught up on all seven Premier League fixtures from Saturday…

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Manchester United 2-1 LiverpoolFULL RECAP

It wasn’t pretty — is it ever with Jose Mourinho? — but Man United rode a pair of early Marcus Rashford goals to all three points and reclamation of the steering wheel in the race for second place. Rashford scored after 14 and 24 minutes, at which point United gladly handed over the vast majority of possession (Liverpool finished with 68 percent, at Old Trafford), but the Red Devils held firm outside of Eric Bailly‘s own goal in the 66th minute. With eight games still to play, United lead Liverpool by five points (Tottenham Hotspur could get back to within four with a win on Sunday).

Chelsea 2-1 Crystal PalaceFULL RECAP

Antonio Conte‘s Chelsea snapped a two-game losing skid with a narrow home victory over Crystal Palace, courtesy of a slow roller from Willian and a Martin Kelly own goal inside the first 32 minutes at Stamford Bridge. Patrick Van Aanholt brought the visitors back to 2-1 in the 90th minute, the Blues held on to win for just the second time in six PL outings. They trail Tottenham by two points, having already played one more game than Spurs.

West Ham United 0-3 BurnleyFULL RECAP

West Ham’s season has gone from bad, to worse, to this has to be the worst it can get, right? Saturday’s 3-0 home defeat to seventh-place Burnley saw the London Stadium devolve into a set of truly ugly scenes, as fan violence and protests became the main storyline. Chris Wood scored twice in the second half, to go with another goal from Ashley Barnes, all in the span of 15 second-half minutes.

Newcastle United 3-0 SouthamptonFULL RECAP

Back in August — and September, and October, and probably November, too — Newcastle United seemed a surefire lock for relegation from the PL. Fast-forward to early March, and Rafa Benitez has somehow — masterfully — managed to guide the Magpies to 13th place in the league table, a full five points clear of 18th place. Southampton, on the other hand, are just one place and one point clear of the drop zone after a brace from Kenedy and a third from Matt Ritchie dropped Saints to four games without a win on Saturday.

West Bromwich Albion 1-4 Leicester CityFULL RECAP

West Brom aren’t likely to realize the same rescue from relegation that Newcastle have enjoyed, as Alan Pardew‘s side currently sits bottom of the league, eight points away from safety, after another humiliating defeat at home, this time to eighth-place Leicester. Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez, Kelechi Iheanacho and Vicente Iborra got the goals after Salomon Rondon had put the Baggies 1-0 up after eight minutes.

Everton 2-0 Brighton & Hove AlbionFULL RECAP

Speaking of sides who managed to rebound after a torrid start to the season, Everton have reclaimed their (apparent) birthright as a top-half side following Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Brighton. Gaetan Bong put the Seagulls behind with an own goal on the hour mark, followed by an insurance goal for the Toffees courtesy of Cenk Tosun.

Huddersfield Town 0-0 Swansea CityFULL RECAP

15th-place Huddersfield and 14th-place Swansea played to perhaps the most lopsided 0-0 draw in the history of soccer after Jordan Ayew was sent off in the 11th minute.

Sunday’s PL schedule

Arsenal vs. Watford — 9:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com
Bournemouth vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 12 p.m. ET, on NBCSports.com

Monday’s PL schedule

Stoke City vs. Manchester City — 4 p.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Newcastle United 3-0 Southampton: Magpies seal big win

Anthony Devlin/PA via AP
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  • Magpies take 2-0 halftime lead
  • Saints’ Pellegrino job in danger
  • Ritchie adds insurance

Kenedy scored two first half goals and Newcastle United went a long way toward saving their Premier League status with a 3-0 win over Southampton at St. James’ Park on Saturday.

Matt Ritchie also scored for the Magpies, who got one of Jonjo Shelvey‘s good days in winning the match.

Newcastle moves five points clear of the drop zone, into 13th, while Saints remain 17th.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Jonjo Shelvey started the opener, sending a long ball to Kenedy that the Brazilian chested down, turned Cedric Soares and grounded a shot past Alex McCarthy inside the far post.

Dwight Gayle had a pair of chances to make it 2-0. His first was saved, and his second would’ve been better left to Ayoze Perez. Gayle instead his a tame effort to McCarthy.

It was 2-0 when Perez was played down the middle of the pitch and used a slowing of the pace and a deft feed to Gayle, who cut across for a Kenedy tap-in.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

The Magpies weren’t finished, thanks largely to some baffling defense from Southampton.

The third goal came courtesy of some passive defending atop the 18, with Shelvey given seemingly hours to operate and find a screaming and unmarked Ritchie. The Scotsman beat McCarthy to the far post for 3-0.

Martin Dubravka made a fine save as Saints had a 77th minute chance, and credit to them there wasn’t a let-off despite the three-goal hole.