Ayoze Perez fires Newcastle OUT of relegation zone – after being dropped

Newcastle United are out of the Premier League's relegation zone – after winning their first game at the 11th attempt.

A second-half strike from substitute Ayoze Perez gave Rafa Benitez's side a 1-0 win over Watford at St James's Park this afternoon.

Ayoze Perez, centre, is mobbed by his team-mates.

Ayoze Perez, centre, is mobbed by his team-mates.

Owner Mike Ashley was at the stadium to see the victory, which lifted the club up to 17th place.

The result saw United double their points tally, which now stands at six.

However, the win came at a cost, and Benitez lost Jamaal Lascelles, Jonjo Shelvey and Yoshinori Muto to injury.

There was a minute's remembrance for the victims of last weekend's helicopter crash at Leicester City before kick-off time.

Jonjo Shelvey leaves the field injured.

Jonjo Shelvey leaves the field injured.

Benitez, Newcastle's manager, had recalled fit-again Salomon Rondon to his starting XI at the expense of Perez.

Lascelles, making his 100th start for the club, stopped a 15th-minute header from Adrian Mariappa on the line. A follow-up shot from the defender went wide.

Mohamed Diame tested Ben Foster with a fierce shot at the other end of the pitch, while United had a let-off in the 27th minute when Gerard Deulofeu put an effort wide after a quick break from Watford.

The visitors were dangerous on the break, and they ended the half on top.

Benitez lost Muto before the interval – he was replaced by Perez – and Lascelles didn't make it out for the second half, having suffered a shoulder injury early in the game.

Shelvey was then forced off, and it was his replacement, Ki Sung-yueng, who delivered the driven free-kick for Perez's 65th-minute headed goal.

The strike, Perez's first of the season, lifted the roof at St James's Park.

Kenedy made a superb last-ditch challenge on Watford substitute Andre Gray to prevent a goal, and Newcastle survived a nervous and niggly last 15 minutes to claim a crucial first victory.

There was a protest against Ashley outside the Milburn Stand after the game.

NEWCASTLE UNITED: Dubravka; Yedlin, Lascelles (Schar, 46), Fernandez, Dummett; Shelvey (Ki, 51), Diame; Ritchie, Muto (Perez, 46), Kenedy; Rondon. Subs not used: Darlow, Manquillo, Joselu, Atsu.

WATFORD: Foster, Femenia, Mariappa, Cathcart, Holebas, Doucoure, Capoue, Hughes (Okaka, 77), Deulofeu (Gray, 65), Pereyra, Success (Chalobah, 85). Subs not used: Gomes, Masina, Sema, Kabasele.

Goal: Perez 65

Bookings: Capoue 29, Hughes 64, Holebas 90, Schar 90, Gray 90

Referee: Craig Pawson (Sheffield)

Attendance: 49,157