Newcastle United pulled off quite a scalp at the weekend as Matt Richie's second-half strike saw the Tyneside club overcome the odds to win against big boys Manchester United - a result that surprisingly saw Jose Mourinho continue his run of never winning at Newcastle United's home ground.
Although Ritchie's strike won the three points for the Magpies the real hero of the day came in the shape of goalkeeper Martin Dubravka, with the Slovakian shot-stopper starring between the sticks as he kept a clean sheet on his Newcastle debut.
The 29-year old has now appeared to lay the foundations of a permanent stay at Newcastle despite his loan deal set to expire at the end of the season. After his stunning performance, the Slovakian international revealed his happiness on being in Tyneside.
“We have found a nice place to live here. I am happy about that now. It has been tiring living in a hotel. I am happy to feel at home. This is a new adventure for me. The people have been very friendly to me from the beginning and that’s important.” Dubravka stated (via Chronicle Live)
The Slovak kept everything United had to offer out, and even showed off how good he is with his feet; stating that “In modern football as a goalkeeper you need to be able to play too."
Goalkeepers had been an issue for Rafa Benitez given the stuttering form showcased by goalkeepers Robert Elliot and Karl Darlow, but with Dubravka leaving the field after the Man United game to a standing ovation after a wonderful display he should ease the stress on Newcastle's experienced manager.
Dubravka undoubtedly was the best player on the St James' Park turf, a bold statement given the quality of players on show - especially at the Manchester United end of things. If his stellar debut performance is anything to go by, the Magpies might take up the option of signing the Sparta Prague goalkeeper on a permanent deal worth £5.2 million at the end of the season.
After the victory against Manchester United, Rafa Benitez continued Newcastle's preparation for the final few months of the season at Benton opting against a sunshine break for the squad despite their exit in the FA Cup. This decision has been lauded by Newcastle's new goalkeeper with Dubravka stating that the two weeks of training will prove crucial in their survival bid.
“You need some time to spend with your team-mates and get to know them. Now we have a little bit more time to prepare for the next game at AFC Bournemouth. It’s going to be a nice two weeks now because we have won. But we also need to make sure we work hard in training. We can be satisfied now but it’s about making sure we keep going in the right direction," the goalkeeper added.
The Magpies return Premier League action with an away game against Bournemouth to look forward to, with the Tyneside club in 13th place and just two points away from the tightly contested relegation zone.