Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez happy with Diame and Atsu's impact

Rafa Benitez hailed Mohamed Diame and Christian Atsu after they sent Newcastle United back to the top of the Championship, writes Miles Starforth.

Thursday, 15th December 2016, 6:41 am
Updated Thursday, 15th December 2016, 10:22 am
Mo Diame opens the scoring for Newcastle last night.
Mo Diame opens the scoring for Newcastle last night.

Goals from Diame and Atsu saw Benitez’s side beat Wigan Athletic 2-0 at the DW Stadium last night.

The result saw the club go a point clear of Brighton and Hove Albion ahead of Saturday’s game against Burton Albion.

Diame netted before the break, and Atsu scored after being sent on to relieve the pressure on Newcastle, who had been put under intense pressure by Wigan in the second half.

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The goal capped an upturn in fortunes for summer signing Diame, who admitted he had been struggling for form last month.

United manager Benitez said: “I think that we said last week that Diame was working very hard, and I’m really pleased with the goal that he scored.

“He tries to do the things that the team needs, but at the same time he’s scoring goals. I’m really pleased for him because it is good for his confidence.

“I think that we tried to play well. The pitch wasn’t the best in terms of passing the ball on the floor, and it was difficult to control the ball. We tried to play well, and if we can, then perfect, because we will have more chances to win games.

“But if not, we have to just work hard and try to win.”

Atsu replaced a quiet Matt Ritchie midway through the second half.

Benitez said: “We needed fresh legs. We need a little bit of pace. He did it. That was the ideal situation.”

Brighton had gone top on Tuesday night after beating Blackburn Rovers 3-2 at Ewood Park.

Wigan: Jaaskelainen, Garbutt (Kellett 20), Morgan (Burn 68), Buxton, Warnock, MacDonald (Davies 80), Wildschut, Power, Perkins, Jacobs, Grigg. Subs Not Used: Byrne, Le Fondre, Gomez, Lavercombe.

Newcastle: Darlow, Anita, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett, Ritchie (Atsu 69), Shelvey, Hayden, Gouffran, Diame, Gayle (Perez 82). Subs Not Used: Lazaar, Mbemba, Yedlin, Sels, Mitrovic. Booked: Hayden. Goals: Diame 26, Atsu 78.

Att: 14,562 Ref: Simon Hooper (Wiltshire).