Newcastle go SEVEN points clear of relegation zone as Islam Slimani makes his debut
Newcastle United moved SEVEN points clear of the relegation zone '“ thanks to a goal from Ayoze Perez.
Perez's second-half strike saw Rafa Benitez's side beat Huddersfield Town 1-0 at St James's Park this afternoon.
The third successive home win lifted the club up to 12th in the Premier League ahead of next weekend's game against Leicester City at the King Power Stadium.
January signing Islam Slimani came off the bench to make his United debut in the fixture.
Newcastle dominated the first half, but just couldn't get the ball in the net. They patiently prodded and probed their visitors and created a series of chances for Dwight Gayle.
The striker diverted a shot from Jonjo Shelvey just wide in the 15th minute. As the half-hour mark approached, Shelvey found him with a quick free-kick, but he was wide again with his effort.
Gayle put another shot over the bar from a DeAndre Yedlin cross, and the half ended goalless.
The second half was scrappy. Huddersfield lost Elias Kachunga to injury, and the game slowly opened up. Mathias Jorgensen had a header from a corner inadvertently stopped on the line by one of his own team-mates.
Christian Atsu replaced Matt Ritchie – who had scored in the club's last two home outings – in the 67th minute.
Slimani came on for the last 15 minutes – he replaced Gayle – and Isaac Hayden soon followed him on to the pitch.
The breakthrough came in the 80th minute. Atsu delivered a cross from the right and goalkeeper Jonas Lossl palmed the ball away from Slimani to Kenedy. The winger found Perez, who tapped the ball home.
Perez's strike took his Premier League goal tally for the season to three.
And United saw out the last few minutes to claim a hugely-important victory – and record a third successive clean sheet at St James's Park.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Dubravka; Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummett; Shelvey, Diame (Hayden, 79); Ritchie (Atsu, 67), Perez, Kenedy; Gayle (Slimani, 75). Subs not used: Darlow, Manquillo, Clark, Murphy.
HUDDERSFIELD TOWN: Lossl, Smith (Mounie, 83), Kongolo, Schindler, Jorgensen, Hogg, Mooy, Van La Parra (Malone, 86), Pritchard, Kachunga (Quaner, 56), Depoitre. Subs not used: Coleman, Billing, Ince, Hadergjonaj.
Goal: Perez 80
Bookings: Mooy 6, Lascelles 8, Hogg 28, Schindler 61, Jogensen 85
Referee: Martin Atkinson (West Yorkshire)