Newcastle maintain Premier League charge thanks to gutsy win over Burnley
Rafa Benitez isn't a superstitious man '“ he just believes in winning games.
And that's just what Benitez's team did on a bitterly cold night at Turf Moor.
Sky Sports have screened some dreadful Newcastle United games on Monday nights over the years. Fortunately, this was one that fans could actually enjoy.
Tonight's 2-1 win over Burnley at Turf Moor ended a run of 10 dismal Premier League defeats on Monday nights.
Benitez isn't superstitious, and he was untroubled by the club's record in televised Monday games.
“The records are there to be broken, so we have to change that – that’s it,” said United's manager matter-of-factly before the game.
An own goal from Ben Mee – he was struck by a Federico Fernandez shot – and a strike from stand-in captain Ciaran Clark did just that and gave United another valuable win.
United's third successive victory – and first away from home – moved the club up to 13th place in the table.
Kick-off time at Turf Moor was delayed by 30 minutes after the referee's assessor collapsed in the tunnel.
Benitez made one change for the game – Clark replaced the injured Paul Dummett at left-back – and Jonjo Shelvey was named on the bench after recovering from a calf problem.
Captain Jamaal Lascelles was again missing because of a shoulder injury.
Newcastle's last Premier League goal on a Monday night had come against Everton at Goodison Park in late 2013, but the club's dismal run in front of the TV cameras hadn't put off travelling fans, who sold out the away end.
Their faith in their team was to be rewarded.
Newcastle's long run without a goal came to an end with just four minutes gone at Turf Moor. Fernandez seized on a loose ball just outside the box, and his shot was deflected past a helpless Joe Hart by Mee.
Burnley fought back, and Chris Wood should have done better at the far post from a deep Matt Lowton cross in the 13th minute.
Wood caught Martin Dubravka by surprise with a long-range effort later in the half, but the goalkeeper was able to stop the shot.
It got better for United midway through the half. Matt Ritchie delivered the ball into the box after a short corner, and Clark flicked a backwards header past Hart to put Newcastle 2-0 ahead.
United looked to be in complete control of the game, but they wouldn't take their two-goal advantage into the break.
Sam Vokes got above Fabian Schar to send a a looping header from a Mee cross past a backpedalling Dubravka in the 40th minute.
Dubravka did well to stop a fierce shot from Wood before the break as Burnley pushed for an equaliser.
Ritchie should have done better form a low DeAndre Yedlin cross early in the second half – the winger somehow shot wide at the far post – and Kenedy was high and wide with another effort.
There weren't too many more chances. Newcastle defended deep and in numbers at times, and Joselu, on for Rondon, struck the post during a rare attack.
Burnley kept on coming – Hart spent the last couple of minutes outfield – and referee Anthony Taylor eventually blew the final whistle.
And United's fans stayed behind at Turf Moor long after the final whistle to acknowledge the significance of the victory.
BURNLEY: Hart, Lowton, Taylor, Cork, Mee, Vokes, Wood, Brady (Barnes, 83), Defour (Hendrick, 83), Lennon, Long. Subs not used: Heaton, Gibson, Westwood, Bardsley, Vydra.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Dubravka; Yedlin, Fernandez, Schar, Clark; Ki, Diame; Ritchie, Perez, Kenedy (Hayden, 90); Rondon (Joselu, 71). Subs not used: Woodman, Murphy, Shelvey, Manquillo, Atsu.