Matt Ritchie and Ayoze Perez blast Newcastle through the 40-point barrier

Matt Ritchie (Pic: Stephen Dobson)
Matt Ritchie (Pic: Stephen Dobson)

Newcastle United came from behind to beat Arsenal 2-1 on a memorable afternoon at St James's Park.

Rafa Benitez's side passed their 40-point target this afternoon thanks to goals from Matt Ritchie and Ayoze Perez.

United are now 13 points off the relegation zone with five games left to play.

And the result, the team's fourth successive win, consolidated the 10th-placed club's position in the top half of the Premier League ahead of their game against Everton at Goodison Park a week on Monday.

Newcastle went behind to a 14th-minute strike from former target Alexandre Lacazette.

However, United were level before the half-hour mark. Dwight Gayle played the ball out to DeAndre Yedlin, who crossed for Perez at the near post. Perez flicked the ball past Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech to equalise.

Ayoze Perez (Pic: Stephen Dobson)

Ayoze Perez (Pic: Stephen Dobson)

Arsenal, tired from their Europa League trip to Moscow, retreated in the second half. Newcastle hassled and harried Arsene Wenger's side, and their pressure finally told in the 68th minute.

Substitute Islam Slimani had headed an attempted Arsenal clearance down to Perez, who flicked the ball to Ritchie in front of goal. Ritchie smashed it home.

United saw off a late fightback from Arsenal to record a first home win over Arsenal since the 2005-06 seasson.

And Benitez joined his players on the pitch after the final whistle as fans celebrated the result.

NEWCASTLE UNITED: Dubravka; Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummett; Shelvey, Diame; Ritchie (Murphy, 86), Perez (Joselu, 79) Kenedy; Gayle (Slimani, 63). Subs not used: Darlow, Clark, Manquillo, Hayden.

ARSENAL: Cech, Chambers (Maitland-Niles, 78), Mustafi, Holding, Monreal, Elneny, Xhaka, Iwobi (Nketiah, 86), Willock (Welbeck, 68), Aubameyang, Lacazette. Subs not used: Ospina, Mertesacker, Kolasinac, Nelson.

Goals: Lacazette 14, Perez 29, Ritchie 68

Booking: Slimani 90

Referee: Anthony Taylor (Wythenshawe)

Attendance: 52,210