Rafael Benitez earned his first win as Newcastle United manager and boosted their hopes of staying in the Barclays Premier League with a 3-0 victory over Swansea City on Saturday.
Benitez made five changes to the starting XI in response to last weekend’s defeat by Southampton and the Spaniard’s team selection was vindicated on his birthday, with Newcastle earning their reward for a much-improved showing.
Jamaal Lascelles, who came in for Steven Taylor in the back four, opened the scoring in the 40th minute, heading in only his second goal for the club from Andros Townsend’s corner.
Jefferson Montero and Bafetimbi Gomis both spurned big chances for Swansea before Moussa Sissoko’s first goal of the campaign and Townsend’s late third sealed a result that, combined with Sunderland’s 3-0 win at Norwich City, moves Newcastle within three points of safety with five matches to play.
Newcastle United boss, Rafael Benitez, praised the “passion and commitment” shown by his players in their victory over Swansea City.
“I have to say congratulations to the players,” Benitez told BBC Sport. “They showed passion and commitment. Thank you to the fans. If we stick together then it’s easier for us to approach the game and gives us the chance to win. The players that started were really good. And the other players who came on helped the team.
“Striker Papiss Cisse was fantastic up front and Aleksandar Mitrovic was good too when he came on. When you win games everybody is happy. Today we saw what we expect from this team.
“We have to show the same in the other games. We were not thinking about the earlier win for Sunderland over Norwich. Now we can see the table but before the game it was about focusing on the game.”
The North-East outfit are now three points within safety with five games left to play.