Fabian Schar proved the difference as his first Newcastle goals lifted the gloom around St James’ Park where Rafael Benitez’s team have already lost eight times in the league this season. Newcastle lifted themselves out of the relegation zone and leapfrogged Cardiff as they secured a much-needed win over Neil Warnock’s side.
The Swiss defender was only in the side to replace the injured Ciaran Clark but he took full advantage midway through the first when he was allowed to run from the right touchline before curling left-footed into the bottom corner.
As fine a goal as it was, the Cardiff defending was non-existent. Schar’s second was more straightforward as he found himself in the right spot to bundle in Matt Ritchie’s corner. Ayoze Perez added gloss in injury time from Salomon Rondon’s low cross as Newcastle scored three goals for the first time in the league this season.
Victory ended a five-game winless run for the Magpies and lifted them two points clear of their opponents, who only have Fulham and Huddersfield beneath them.
Schar shines in superb team display
Benitez targeted this game against one of their relegation rivals as a crucial one and his team seemed to rise to the occasion with stellar performances all over the pitch. This was a seventh game unbeaten against teams from the bottom seven.
Schar’s goals were as well taken as they were unexpected, but there were fine displays from the likes of academy graduate Sean Longstaff in midfield and Rondon, who was a true workhorse in attack.
The Magpies also added a threat down the flanks that Cardiff struggled to deal with as Ritchie and Christian Atsu combined down the left, with DeAndre Yedlin offering a constant outlet on the right.
Schar’s opener also came from that flank as he operated on the right side of a back three and was willing to break forward before calmly slotting past Neil Etheridge.
The home fans knew they were witnessing something special in the context of this season when Schar added his second – only the second time they had scored two home goals this season.
The players, too, seemed to be lifted as they found an extra yard of pace and defended superbly as Cardiff finally stirred. And when Perez popped up with a third, his fourth of the season, late on, it gave them hope that despite ongoing issues around the ownership of the club, they might yet see Premier League football again next season.
Cardiff struggle without injured captain Morrison
Cardiff came into the game in better form than their opponents, having lost only once in the past four games, with three clean sheets in the process.
They were also boosted by the loan signing of striker Oumar Niasse, who joined the club from Everton on Friday. But with only 10 minutes in the Premier League since September, he struggled to fit into the team, which was perhaps understandable.
The Bluebirds were also without captain Sean Morrison, who suffered a burst appendix earlier in the week, and his omission was important as the defence struggled to marshal the impressive Rondon.
Only Victor Camarasa managed a shot on goal in the first half, as he fizzed the ball over from 25 yards just before the break.
And it was only after Newcastle went 2-0 up that the visitors attacked with any urgency. Bobby Reid skewed wide late on, but Warnock’s team did not look very threatening in attack and were met with some stubborn resistance.
Source: BBC News