Newcastle marksman Christian Atsu hailed unselfish striker Aleksandar Mitrovic for his role in the opening goal of Saturday’s seventh successive Championship win.
Mitrovic set up the on-loan Chelsea winger for his first home goal for the Magpies as they scraped home 2-1 against Cardiff City.
After he was fed the ball just inside the Cardiff penalty area, Mitrovic turned his man and rolled a pass into the feet of Atsu.
The winger, included in the absence of suspended Matt Ritchie, then did the rest by picking out the inside corner of Ben Amos’s net.
On Mitrovic’s assist, Atsu said “I thank him that he saw me. There are some strikers that like to score themselves (in that position), but he gave the ball to me.
“I’m happy. I’m always prepared, so when I get a chance I can take it.”
Atsu added: “I’m very happy to score. The last time (against Preston in cup) I missed a lot of chances. Today I scored my first chance, though I missed another opportunity to kill the game.
“I kept my head up and kept fighting to the end.”
After Amos made a stunning save to deny Paul Dummett, Yoan Gouffran doubled Newcastle’s advantage just before half-time. DeAndre Yedlin’s pass behind the defence was perfect for Gouffran to shoot first time inside the far post.
Cardiff made life difficult after the break, and sub Peter Whittingham set up a nervous finale with a 77th-minute strike, drilling a low effort through a crowded box. “It’s always tough in the Championship,” said Atsu.
“With set-pieces they are very dangerous.
“They pressed us high in the second half, but we got the three points.”
Cardiff manager Neil Warnock was furious that the Bluebirds were denied a spot-kick to equalise. He claimed Mitrovic “mauled” down Sean Morrison.
He said: “He gets kicked in the face. I am so gutted at the penalty. Mitrovic mauls him down. At this level the officials should be educated better and know about the pull.
“To add salt, the linesman gives the free-kick to them. They will go home and see it with their coaches next week and say ‘oh yeah, I made a mistake’.
“We have not got enough goals in the squad. We have to work on that. There were some pluses though. The lads at the back especially.”
Newcastle: Darlow, Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett, Atsu (Diame 89), Shelvey, Hayden, Gouffran (Anita 72), Perez, Mitrovic. Subs not used: Colback, Hanley, Lazaar, Gayle, Sels. Goals: Atsu 3, Gouffran 45.
Cardiff: Amos, Peltier, Morrison, Bamba, Bennett, Noone (Harris 75), Richardson (Whittingham 74), Gunnarsson, Ralls, Hoilett, Lambert (Chamakh 72). Subs not used: Ecuele Manga, Gounongbe, O’Keefe, Wilson. Booked: Gunnarsson. Goal: Whittingham 77.
Ref: Tony Harrington (Cleveland).