Newcastle United 2 Stoke City 1: Jamaal Lascelles fires club up to FOURTH in Premier League

Christian Atsu and Matt Ritchie
Christian Atsu and Matt Ritchie

Jamaal Lascelles lifted Newcastle United up to fourth in the Premier League.

Goals from Lascelles and Christian Atsu saw Rafa Benitez's side beat Stoke City 2-1 at St James's Park this afternoon.

And the result, the club's third successive victory, means Newcastle have won three of their five opening matches in the top flight since the 2001-01 season, when Sir Bobby Robson guided the club to an 11th-placed finish.

Atsu gave United a first-half lead, but Joselu missed a series of chances against his former club before Xherdan Shaqiri levelled after the break.

However, Lascelles, Benitez's captain, headed a winner for the second week in a row.

The 23-year-old had scored the only goal of the game against Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium six days earlier.

Newcastle had struggled to break down Stoke for the first 15 minutes.

Manager Benitez, recovering from surgery earlier this month, sat and watched from his seat as first-team coach Mikel Antia issued instructions to players from the touchline.

United got their breakthrough thanks to a superb cross from Matt Ritchie, who took the ball to the right of the box.

Ritchie crossed for Christian Atsu at the far post with his left foot, and the winger emphatically finished past Jack Butland.

Newcastle goalkeeper Rob Elliot was equal to Stoke's only real first-half chance – a shot from Shaqiri – and Joselu put a shot wide at the other end of the pitch in the 27th minute.

The former Stoke striker was also denied by Butland before the break, and he put another opportunity over the bar early in the second half.

Elliot kept out a shot from Shaqiri early in the half, but he couldn't stop the winger's 57th-minute effort. Joe Allen found Shaqiri in space 25 yards from goal, and he ran towards the box before placing a low shot between Elliot and his post.

United were put under more pressure after conceding, though they had a strong claim for a penalty waved away after Kurt Zouma clipped Atsu in the box.

That incident brought St James's Park back to life, and Lascelles lifted the roof with his 69th-minute winner.

Lascelles headed a Ritchie corner in off the crossbar to lift Newcastle into the Champions League places.

NEWCASTLE UNITED: Elliot; Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Mbemba; Hayden (Shelvey, 69), Merino; Ritchie, Perez (Diame, 86), Atsu; Joselu (Gayle, 78). Subs not used: Woodman, Lejeune, Manquillo, Murphy.

STOKE CITY: Butland; Zouma, Martins Indi, Wimmer; Diouf, Allen (Crouch, 84), Fletcher, Pieters; Jese (Sobhi, 62), Shaqiri; Choupo-Moting. Subs not used: Grant, Johnson, Berahino, Tymon, Adam.

Goals: Atsu 19, Shaqiri 57, Lascelles 69

Bookings: Hayden 25, Wimmer 30, Clark 73, Merino 77

Referee: Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire)

Attendance: 51,795