Newcastle United cruised to a 2-0 victory over the Premier League’s bottom side Huddersfield on Saturday afternoon, with goals from Salomon Rondon and Ayoze Perez helping the Magpies climb to 15th in the table.
Despite a recent upturn in form, manager Rafa Benitez claimed his side needed a victory to keep their heads above water, with Newcastle now four points clear of the drop zone (though Southampton could cut the deficit to one point with their game in hand).
It could turn out to be a significant three points in a week where fellow strugglers Burnley and Crystal Palace also picked up victories.
The Magpies were aided by an early red card for Huddersfield following Tommy Smith's reckless challenge on Miguel Almiron, but Benitez insisted he was proud of his player's performance regardless, who controlled the game throughout.
"Obviously it was more difficult for them with ten players, but they still had chances at the beginning,” Benitez told Sky Sports. "I was really pleased with the performance of the players.”
Newcastle were guilty of wasting plentiful chances in front of goal, having an incredible 29 shots in the game. Fans were initially frustrated as their club failed to press their ascendency but Benitez felt it only emphasised his team’s impressive display, and Rondon's early goal in the second half calmed the nerves of the Toon Army at St. James' Park.
"We created a lot of chances - I think we hit the crossbar or the post four times. We needed to win, and we won well,” he added.
Benitez was also full of praise for new record signing Almiron, who stole the show with his dynamic display in his home debut for the Magpies.
"He [Almiron] was doing what we were expecting. He has energy, he is running all over the pitch. He is trying to link with other players. I think it was a great game for him and the fans to enjoy.”
Newcastle made it three straight home wins with this result and the manager finished by looking ahead to another winnable fixture with Burnley visiting St James’ Park next.
“It does not matter for me whether we pick up three points at home or away, but as we play Burnley next at home, hopefully, we can carry our good home run."