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Opinion

What a day to sing in the Leazes as a Newcastle United fan

9 months ago
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Well, that was quite some match, final score Newcastle 4 Brighton 1.

A magnificent performance by the men in black and white against skilful and surprisingly feisty opponents.

As a Newcastle United fan, my voice has gone a bit hoarse, so you’ll have to tell me ma, me ma I won’t be home for tea, I’m going to Italy.

Did 4-1 flatter us? Certainly not. Our high-energy and relentless harrying, especially in the first half, stopped Brighton in their tracks. Nick Pope made only one save in the entire match, a weak shot even me ma would have caught; and she’s 93.

There’s another song buzzing around my head at one o’clock this Friday morning, with a memorable chorus:

Oh, it’s such a perfect day
I’m glad I spent it with you
Oh, such a perfect day
You just keep me hanging on
You just keep me hanging on.

Various interpretations have been put forward for the meaning behind the words of Lou Reed’s Perfect Day; some say the song is a tribute to heroin, others that it refers to the woman who was then his fiancee. Whatever the inspiration, the chorus seems a fitting description of what we witnessed at St James’ Park in the penultimate home game of the season.

Until the first goal was obligingly supplied by Denis Undav, with a brilliant near-post header, there was that anxious feeling we would pay for our profligacy in front of goal. Checking the statistics on the BBC report, we had only 34% possession. That seems incredibly low, considering the Seagulls were penned in their half for minutes on end.

Far more relevant was what each team did with the ball. The Magpies’ 22 attempts (nine on target) compared with our opponents’ eight attempts with only two on target. Those figures tell the true story of the match.

Yes, Albion are a good team, but they were made to look ordinary or worse last night. Moises Caicedo, who ran the show during their 3-0 at the Emirates a few days ago, had an absolute shocker. On that evidence he is no full-back.

I made Miggy Almiron man of the match, though Kieran Trippier also made a welcome return to his best form. Miggy was like two players, covering a huge amount of ground, chasing lost causes, harassing their back line and keeper.

When Leicester City won the Premier League seven seasons ago, the joke was that N’Golo Kante must have had an identical twin, because the midfielder seemed to be in two places at once.

However good he was, I cannot believe he was in any match better than Miggy was against Brighton. And our Paraguayan plays in a more advanced, more demanding position. Those who thought his purple patch earlier this season was a one-off need to think again.

The pace, bravery and determination to take on Caicedo in the closing minutes, beat him on the outside and supply a sublime pass to Callum Wilson for the third goal was breathtaking.

Wilson scored one, could have had two more and with Alexander Isak formed the first line of defence. Almiron and Joelinton ensured there was rarely an easy escape from the press. Joe Willock put in another accomplished performance. Bruno G somehow made it to the end, anchoring the midfield while below par physically and perhaps mentally.

His sheer bloody-mindedness was proved yet again when he put the icing on the cake with the fourth goal. How far did he run to score that one?

From the start, Jason Steele and his central defenders, Lewis Dunk and Paul van Hecke, were determined to play out from the back with short passes, sideways passes, back passes. Wilson and Isak were determined to thwart them. And they did. At least six times in the first half Steele or a flustered teammate hoofed the ball straight into touch.

When they did advance with fluid pass-and-move football, Trippier and Big Dan Burn prevented nearly every attempt to break beyond our back line.

And at the other end, just before half-time, BDB leapt to head his first Premier League goal for his home-town club.

Fabian Schar and Sven Botman won most of the aerial challenges, while Pope kept things simple, almost the opposite of Steele.

Brighton were discomforted and, by the end, thoroughly discomfited. They were unsettled and run ragged, routed and finally ripped to shreds.

Roll on Monday night!

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 4 Brighton 1 – Thursday 18 May 7.30pm

Goals:

Newcastle United:

Undav 22 OG, Burn 45+4, Wilson 89, Bruno 90+1

Brighton:

Undav 51

Possession was Brighton 66%  Newcastle 34%

Total shots were Brighton 8 Newcastle 22

Shots on target were Brighton 2 Newcastle 9

Corners were Brighton 1 Newcastle 6

Referee: Robert Jones

Crowd: 52,122

Newcastle United:

Pope, Trippier (Manquillo 90+5), Schar, Botman, Burn, Bruno, Joelinton (Targett 90+5), Almiron (ASM 90+4), Willock (Anderson 61), Isak (Gordon 90+4), Wilson

Unused Subs:

Dubravka, Dummett, Lewis, Miley

(Newcastle 4 Brighton 1 – Match ratings and comments on all of the NUFC players – Read HERE)

(Newcastle 4 Brighton 1 – The instant NUFC fan / writer reaction – Read HERE)

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