Newcastle United gained a deserved three points against relegation rivals Stoke City on New Years Day by winning 1-0 at the Bet 365 Stadium thanks to Ayoze Perez's goal gifting the Toon Army back to back Premier League wins for the first time since 2014.
Mark Hughes reinstalled many of the players he publicly admitted to resting in the 5-0 drubbing at Chelsea, starting Joe Allen, Xherdan Shaqiri, Eric Choupo-Moting, Peter Crouch, Kurt Zouma and Erik Pieters but the Potters could only conjure up a few half chances all game.
Rafa Benitez rung the changes from the 0-0 draw with Brighton two days ago, bringing in Javier Manquillo, Mo Diame, Jonjo Shelvey, Jacob Murphy and Ayoze.
Newcastle started the game very well and their best opportunity came in the 14th minute when DeAndre Yedlin galloped down the right hand flank to pull the ball back to Christian Atsu but the Ghanaian's shot was straight at Jack Butland.
Charlie Adam stung the palms of Karl Darlow with a free-kick from distance in the 27th minute, but apart from that, Stoke didn't really get a look in all half.
Newcastle should have had the lead on the half hour mark after a glaring miss by centre-back Ciaran Clark. Matt Ritchie swung the ball into the near post for Ayoze Perez to flick on to the back post where Clark somehow managed to sky the ball clear of the crossbar from four yards out when it seemed easier to score.
Darlow was merely a bystander for the first-half, but he was called into action seven minutes into the second-half with a brilliant save. Eric Choupo-Moting cut inside Jonjo Shelvey on the corner of the box and curled the ball towards the far top corner but the Newcastle goalkeeper dived to his left and magnificently tipped it over.
Rafa Benitez has won six and lost only one of his 12 Premier League fixtures as a manager against Mark Hughes #STKNEW— Around The Grounds (@ArndTheGrnds) January 1, 2018
Jonjo Shelvey had a good free-kick in the 67th minute but he just couldn't get enough bend on the ball to curl it into the top corner of Butland's side.
Newcastle finally got the goal they deserved in the 73rd minute. Jacob Murphy - who was absolutely fantastic driving on the counter attack all game - played a delightful pass in behind the Stoke back four for Ayoze to latch onto and poke through Butland.
Newcastle's goalkeeper made another brilliant save in the 79th minute as the ball bobbled along the Newcastle backline and eventually found its way to substitute Mame Biram Diouf but his acrobatic effort was palmed away by the diving Darlow.
Stoke were so close to snatching an equaliser with four minutes left but somehow the ball stayed out of the Newcastle goal. Darlow again was equal to Diouf's header from close range and Newcastle continued to weather the Stoke pressure all the way to the final whistle to earn Rafa Benitez three crucial points.
The whistle was met with a chorus of boos and chants of Hughes out - the next few days could prove very interesting to Stoke's season.
6⃣ changes for today's @premierleague game against @NUFC.— Stoke City FC (@stokecity) January 1, 2018
Zouma, Pieters, Allen, Shaqiri, Choupo-Moting and Crouch all return.
Joe Allen will skipper the side in a 4-2-3-1 formation.#SCFC ⚪️ pic.twitter.com/ZaebfccpkS