Karl Darlow the hero for Newcastle in vital win vs. Crystal Palace
Newcastle United needed some big performances in their game with Crystal Palace at St James' Park. And you have to say they got them as players in black and white shirts fought tooth and nail to secure three vital points on a sunny day on Tyneside with a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace.
Before the game many wondered if the script would be a cruel one with Alan Pardew returning to his old club with the chance to push the Magpies closer to the Championship. However, while Crystal Palace gave it everything in the tank, there would be no twist against Pardew's former employers.
In fact the presence of Pardew barely got a mention; this game was all about Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez and his battlers on the field. By the end his players were celebrating that they had climbed out of the relegation zone for the first time in almost three months.
There is plenty of hard work ahead, though, if they are to stay out of trouble. Another intense build-up to the next round of Premier League fixtures now awaits. And it's all eyes on the trip to Aston Villa next weekend when Newcastle could take a further step to Premier League survival.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK Karl Darlow, 10 -- Not only did he deny Yohan Cabaye from the penalty spot, but he was on his toes to keep out Yannick Bolasie in the first half. Also confidently claimed a host of crosses.
DF Vurnon Anita, 8 -- Hobbled off towards the end and it will be a big setback if he is missing for Aston Villa next weekend, even with Daryl Janmaat fit again.
DF Jamaal Lascelles 8 -- Timed everything perfectly including an immaculate sliding tackle to deny Connor Wickham.
DF Chancel Mbemba, 8 -- Newcastle have looked like a sturdier outfit since he returned and this was further evidence.
DF Paul Dummett, 8 -- Still unbeaten since he returned to offer the balance to the defence four games ago.
MF Andros Townsend, 9 -- A free-kick that found the top corner of the net in the second half, which could prove to be key in the battle for survival.
MF Cheick Tiote, 8 -- A controlled and tireless display, close to his best again.
MF Jack Colback, 8 -- Offered a solid defensive rearguard in front of the back four.
MF Moussa Sissoko, 8 -- He just kept on running and providing options.
MF Georginio Wijnaldum 7 -- Back in the team but hooked after failing to provide cutting edge.
FW Papiss Cisse, 7 -- No goals but some hard work and plenty of distance covered.
FW Aleksandar Mitrovic, 7 -- On for Cisse in the 72nd minute. Gave tiring Palace something to think about.
FW Ayoze Perez, NR -- Replaced Wijnaldum in the 80th minute. Could have put the lid on the victory after going clean through late on.
MF Jonjo Shelvey, NR -- On for Anita in the 90th minute. Some vital clearances in stoppage time.
Lee Ryder is the chief sports writer for the Newcastle Chronicle, and follows Newcastle from academy to first team. Follow him on Twitter: @lee_ryder.