Newcastle United 4-0 Rotherham United: Benitez's men comfortably return to the summit

Newcastle United 4-0 Rotherham United: Benitez's men comfortably return to the summit

Goals from Daryl Murphy, Ayoze Perez and a Matt Ritchie double ensured Newcastle ran out comfortable winners against struggling Rotherham United.

Aaron Stokes

Newcastle United returned to the top of the Championship with a comfortable 4-0 win over Rotherham United.

The home side took the lead on the stroke of half time through Daryl Murphy, following a lovely move by DeAndre Yedlin and Jonjo Shelvey. 

Goals from Matt Ritchie and Ayoze Perez before the hour mark made for an easy last 30 minutes for Rafa Benitez's men.

Ritchie netted his second 13 minutes from time, meaning Newcastle ran out comfortable winners. The defeat leaves Rotherham 10 points from safety. 

Rotherham plucky but undone late 

Referee Jeremy Simpson had a decision to make inside the first 90 seconds of the match when he decided not to award Newcastle a penalty after what looked like a handball by Aimen Belaid inside the Rotherham box.

The first chance of the game fell in the 13th minute, as Shelvey danced down the left hand side, whipping in a cross for Murphy, who could only head over.

The home side should have broken the deadlock after 21 minutes when Murphy flicked on a loose ball to Perez, who blared his strike over the bar when one on one with Richard O'Donnell.

Rotherham had their first chance of the afternoon on the half-hour mark, as Anthony Forde forced Karl Darlow into a low save from range.

The Millers then missed a glorious opportunity to take the lead when Darlow spilled a low ball trying to stop it leaving his area, allowing Forde to square the ball to Yates. However, with Newcastle bodies flying everywhere, the keeper managed to get back in time to make a stunning block.

Shelvey nearly opened the scoring with five minutes of the first period remaining, but then turned provider just before the half time whistle.

The midfielder's stunning cross field ball to Yedlin was pulled back across goal to Murphy, who calmly turned and slotted home to open the scoring.

Game over before the hour

It only took the Magpies three minutes to open the scoring after the interval. Perez found Yoan Gouffran out wide and the Frenchman struck a low shot towards goal, forcing O'Donnell to parry into the path of Ritchie, who tapped in from close range.

Rotherham's Forde was testing Paul Dummett down the right-hand side but the Black and White defence were coping with anything thrown at them. Darlow was forced into a low save by Belaid just before the hour mark.

However, as the away side tried to find their way back into the game, Newcastle all but put an end to the tie, as Yedlin again raced to the byline, this time finding Perez with his cross and the Spaniard headed home to put the Toon Army three up.

However, the Championship leaders weren't stopping there. Shelvey again went close in the penalty area. The resulting corner saw Ciaran Clark head over the top.

No letting up

It became damage limitation for Paul Warne's men after the third goal, as Benitez continued to encourage his players for more.

Murphy won a corner down the right and the resulting set piece fell to Clark on the edge of the box but the Irishman could only fire wide.

Sami Ameobi, who fans were getting behind with every touch of the ball, then sent a ball over the top which Ritchie could only head back across goal. Perez's shot forced another save from O'Donnell.

Rotherham almost pulled one back against the run of play as Danny Ward had is first involvement, the attacker shooting narrowly wide when through on goal. 

However just a minute later Ritchie netted his second of the game. Shelvey's through ball was perfectly weighted and the Scottish international tucked the ball past the 'keeper calmly. 

Darlow was forced into a save by Forde with five minutes remaining and Ritchie then fired wide after Newcastle quickly broke at the other end.

The results means Rotherham have failed to beat Newcastle in 12 attempts and remain firm favourites to finish bottom of the league this campaign. 

Newcastle have now won three on the spin.