Newcastle United managed to avoid a dirty dozen after finally breaking their duck and getting a first win of the season in a hard fought victory over a feisty Watford side.
A Ayoze Perez goal, a deft flick from a Ki cross on 65 minutes, would prove the difference between the two sides.
After the game Benitez stated ‘I think it was important for every one. To win against a good team … was very positive’.
Rafa had made just the one change before the game with Rondon replacing Perez in the starting line up.
STARTING XI: Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles (Schar, 45), Fernandez, Dummett, Ritchie, Shelvey (Ki, 51), Diame, Kenedy, Muto (Perez, 45+1), Rondon
Injury would also play a significant part in the outcome of this one. Forced changes that could have hampered Newcastle’s charge in fact enhanced it. Perez was introduced seconds before the half time whistle for Muto. Lascelles didn’t appear after the break and Ki also had to enter the fray for Shelvey on 51 minutes.
The changes did the trick.
This further adversity seemed to drive the team forward. Half a yard faster, more aggressive and with more control the lads rallied in the second half.
They needed to, having ridden their luck in the first half with Watford generally on top although not creating a huge number of clear cut chances themselves. They did make at least a couple they should have scored from. Mariappa fired wide after Newcastle failed to clear a corner, whilst Deulofeu fired wide when presented with a great chance with only the keeper to beat. Diame and Kenedy at least posing some threat at the other end.
The second half was better, much better.
Some early pressure, a series of corners for Newcastle, pushed the players and fans on.
A silly foul on the edge of the Watford box gave the home side the opportunity to get themselves ahead. The free kick from the left was fired low into the box with pace, Perez timing his run to perfection, glancing the ball past Foster.
There was fight and determination until the end, and relief, with Pereyra hitting the bar and Okaka blazing over when perfectly placed.
The next few weeks will tell us if this was the start of some sort of escape attempt or empty hope.
One thing we know for sure however, #InRafaWeTrust