Stoke 0 – Newcastle 1
It was a tale of two managers at the Bet365 Stadium on New Year’s Day.
Under pressure Mark Hughes saw his Stoke side beaten at home thanks to a solitary goal by Newcastle’s Ayoze Perez.
With 18 minutes to go, Charlie Adam gave the ball away in the middle of the park and Jacob Murphy was allowed to advance down the right.
Murphy played an inch perfect ball in for Ayoze Perez to slam home the winner.
It was an enormous goal for Newcastle, who now cap off a fine Christmas and new year period.
Mark Hughes for the sack?
Seven points from four games – including away wins at West Ham and Stoke – have pushed Newcastle away from the drop zone.
And, all under the cloud of a takeover that could happen in early 2018.
For Mark Hughes, the writing now appears to be on the wall.
Rafa Benitez speaks with Eric Choupo-Moting at full time
Newcastle fans all hailed Rafa Benitez after the win. See below.
Whilst Benitez made changes and grabbed four points from two matches against Brighton and Stoke, Hughes did the same and was on the end of two Stoke defeats.
After the victory, Newcastle supporters spotted Benitez speaking with Stoke’s star man Eric Choupo-Moting and many are hoping that an unlikely transfer might be on the horizon.
Choupo-Moting played for Hamburg, Mainz and Schalke, so there is not a clear link to Rafa Benitez from his previous clubs.
Some Newcastle fans have suggested that Benitez often talks to opposition players after Toon matches.
Newcastle fans hail Rafa Benitez!
Rafa Benitez is some man for the big games. Double over Brighton last season. Away at Huddersfield last season. Away at Brentford. Preston, Barnsley at home. Double over WHU, double over Stoke. Away at Swansea.
— Evin (@EvG_Football) January 1, 2018
13th in the league and 22 points with basically a championship team. One man has made that possible – Rafa Benitez. Please give him at least a half decent transfer window and kick on for those 18 more points! #NUFC
— Liam C-J (@Liamcj19) January 1, 2018
#NUFC win to edge up the table
Rafa Benitez is our manager
Mike Ashley is hopefully on his way out
And the mackems are on their way to league one
What a time to be alive!
— Liam Drake (@liamdnufc) January 1, 2018
— Steve (@SP_nufc) January 1, 2018
Rafa Benitez doing a great job with championship players and a club in crises.
— Osman (@OsmanZtheGooner) January 1, 2018
It’s not been straightforward this season and even with signings, I don’t expect anything on a plate. But I trust Rafa Benitez to do a job that I didn’t think many of his predecessors were capable of doing. #NUFC
— Rohan Banerjee (@RBanerjee23) January 1, 2018
Could you imagine thinking Rafa Benitez was not the best available manager for Newcastle at the minute 🤷🏻♂️
— Jack Colwell (@JackColwell) January 1, 2018