Newcastle United 2 - 1 Cardiff City: The Toon still on top with another three points

Newcastle United's first half dominance sees them maintain a three point lead over title rivals Brighton as Atsu and Gouffran strike gold.

Newcastle United 2 - 1 Cardiff City: The Toon still on top with another three points
Image Credit: Newcastle United
Newcastle United
2 1
Cardiff City
Newcastle United: Karl Darlow, DeAndre Yedlin, Ciaran Clark, Jamaal Lascelles, Paul Dummett, Isaac Hayden, Jonjo Shelvey, Christian Atsu (Mohamed Diame 89), Yoan Gouffran (Vurnon Anita 72), Ayoze Perez, Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Cardiff City: Ben Amos, Lee Peltier, Joe Bennett, Sean Morrison, Joe Ralls, Craig Noone (Kadeem Harris 74), Sol Bamba, Kieran Richardson (Peter Whittingham 73), Aron Gunnarsson, Rickie Lambert (Marouane Chamakh 72), Junior Hoilett.
SCORE: 1-0 (Atsu 3') 2-0 (Gouffran 45') 2-1 (Whittingham 77')
REFEREE: Tony Harrington

Flags featuring legends such as Bobby Robson and Alan Shearer were proudly displayed by the delegates of the Gallowgate End. Couple that with an early goal and 51-odd thousand Geordies screaming "we're going to win the league" - it's the perfect backdrop for Newcastle United to show off their title credentials with another three points.

Despite their eighth consecutive win, Rafa Benitez should still be cautious as a second-half revival from Cardiff City earned them a dangerous goal. Suspicions of handball aside, a lack of concentration from Newcastle's backline allowed City substitute Peter Whittingham through.

This was Newcastle's ninth league win in a row, matching their longest run against Walsall between the late 1800s and into the 1900s.

First half dominance

The Magpies eagerly got things underway as Aleksandr Mitrovic danced around the Cardiff defence, just before handing it over to Chelsea loanee Christian Atsu who found the back of the net with ease.

Just several minutes later Jonjo Shelvey fired an easy corner kick to an unmarked Gouffran, who loitered inside the penalty box. The Frenchman was able to connect with the ball but it

Newcastle looked their usual Championship self; sharp and clinical.

The heroics of Cardiff City shot stopper Ben Amos was the difference in keeping the scoreline narrow as he kept out vital shots. Had it not been for the keeper, the Bluebirds could have fallen victim to the 6-0 thrashings that Newcastle are making a habit of; just ask QPR and Preston.

Pressure from the Magpies paid off in the last minute of the first half as Yohan Gouffran converted Yedlin's stunning ball.

The right-back visionary picked out an inch-perfect pass from outside the penalty area, which glided past two members of Cardiff's defence and into the path of the number 20.

Neil Warnock the motivator

The game resumed similar, Cardiff City unable to hit a ball on target despite their 6 attempts and Newcastle revelling in their newly doubled lead.

Mitrovic's fine form, six goals in four games (club and country), looked like it ought to continue already having one assist in the bag. The Serbian failed score but his presence was felt in Cardiff's half, earning him a full 90 minutes.

Chances came for City as they grew in confidence, it was obvious that the manager had exchanged positive words with the players during the break. Yet the Toon's, spurred on by a vibrant crowd, managed to hold the Bluebirds out.

In the 74th minute Neil Warnock made the perfect substitution when he took Kieran Richardson off for Whittingham who fired low, straight past Karl Darlow just three minutes later.

While the goal threatened  Newcastle's lead and gave Cardiff a new boost, the Mags displayed their ability to see a game out, much to the relief of the fans as game management something that has been missing for many seasons.

As the final whistle was blown, Newcastle United enjoyed a temporary six point gap at the top as second place Brighton had yet to play.

Cardiff City fans expressed some form of delight as their team were courageous in defeat and their goal difference did not take a hammering.