Newcastle tonight faced a tricky test on paper with an away game in the capital against a good QPR side who started the game in 7th and just two points behind the Toon.
Rafa chose to shuffle his pack once more after Saturday’s away win at Derby with Clark, Hayden, Perez and Mitro all coming into the starting eleven in place of Mbemba, Colback, Diame and Gayle, with only Mbemba being rested due to a slight knock.
STARTING XI: Sels, Anita, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett (Hanley, 65), Gouffran (Atsu, 61), Hayden, Shelvey, Ritchie, Perez, Mitrovic (Yedln, 74)
Playing one up front once more Newcastle would get off to the best possible start when after dominating the early play, certainly in terms of chances in not possession, Mitrovic would pull the ball back from the goal line to an unmarked Shelvey who’s driven effort from twenty yards would take a couple of deflections before trickling over the line. 1-0 Newcastle, and totally deserved.
The lead could have been doubled just two minutes later as Shelvey stole the ball back in midfield and when it broke to Ritchie the Scotsman cracked a tremendous effort from thirty yards only to Smithies make an outstanding save to tip the ball over the bar.
By thirty minutes it would be two. This time it would be Ritchie the provider, and with a ball akin to that he played for Scotland’s second goal against Malta, he would split the QPR defence apart with one killer pass. Perez, racing onto the ball, would see his first effort saved only for the ball to break back to the Spaniard who composed himself to tuck the rebound past two defenders and the QPR keeper.
By now Newcastle had racked up 12 shots to QPRs 2 and were looking comfortable.
Not until the 37th minute did QPR really test Sels in the Newcastle goal with a good effort that our big Belgian would smother with ease. Mitrovic would then see his effort form a Shelvey cross easily saved and so it would stay until half time.
If the first half was about Newcastle getting a foothold in the game, the second was about putting a marker down for the rest of the league.
With only two minutes on the clock in the second period we saw what will be one of the goals of this season. Perez shielding the ball would provide a simple lay off to Shelvey who shifts the ball to his right and bends the most MAJESTIC curling effort you’ll ever see. Just wonderful. 3-0.
Next a Ritchie corner would be met by the head of Clark at the back post, totally unmarked, and it was 4-0. Still only 56 minutes on the clock!!
On 59 minutes Newcastle would then hit the bar. A quite wonderful dink into the box from Perez found an unmarked Mitrovic who’s audacious looping header was tipped onto the bar by a beleaguered Smithies.
A debut for Atsu would be next, and with the player only having been on the pitch for a minute he would cut onto his left foot to find Mitrovic totally unmarked once more. This time the big man would make QPR pay with the most simple of side foot finishes. Even our Serb had to look at the Linesman twice given how much room he was afforded. EASY!
Caulker would then need to hack off the line after a through ball form Shelvey would find Perez racing clear and after his toe poke was saved by Smithies again the ball was lifted clear of the goal line before it managed to find its way over the line.
By now it seemed anything could happen, and the sixth (6) goal for Newcastle seemed to show just that. A cross from Clark (yes Clark) was tapped in my Hanley (yes Hanley). Unbelievable Jeff.
And that was that. 6-0 away from home and could and perhaps should have been more.