Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez made his return to the dugout at St. James' Park on Saturday following surgery and was pleased to see his side secure all three points with a 2-1 victory against visitors Stoke City. Goals from Christian Atsu and captain Jamaal Lascelles ensured that the Magpies recorded their third successive Premier League win, moving them just inside the top four.
Man of the Match Matt Ritchie was the architect of both goals for the hosts, supplying Christian Atsu with a lovely pass in the first half to give Newcastle the lead in the 19th minute.
Xherdan Shaqiri brought matters level on 57 minutes, curling home a sublime strike outside the box before Lascelles, who headed wide before half-time, met another Ritchie cross to clinch victory in the 68th minute.
Speaking to BBC Sport after the match, Benitez expressed his delight with the win:
"Normally I am a little bit more agitated, but today I have to be careful, it will take some time to heal, but at least winning is always easier.
"This group of players works very hard. Sometimes we have some problems, but with the chances we can create we know they can give us the points."
A good run of form and securing all three points against Stoke means that the Magpies are currently sitting inside the top four and hopes of European football next season are already brewing in the hearts of fans. Benitez stated:
"The fans, when you win so many games in a row, they are excited and thinking about Europe - for me it is one game at a time.
"It is a very competitive league and we are learning from that."