Ayoze Perez says scoring against Huddersfield Town was one of the “best moments” of his career at Newcastle United.
An 80th-minute goal from Perez saw Rafa Benitez’s side claim a third successive win at St James’s Park.
And the result has, potentially, moved the Magpies to within three or four points of Premier League safety.
“This is one of my best moments at Newcastle – it has to be,” said Perez.
“Coming up from the Championship, the first season is always really tough, and we’ve been working really hard and playing as a team and finally put ourselves in a great position.
“This kind of goal, this kind of situation, means a lot to me. It’s really enjoyable.
“It’s a great feeling. I can’t really explain it, but it’s amazing. That’s three great points for us, and really important.
“This game was crucial for us – one of the most important of the season – and we got the victory.
“We’re seven points clear of the bottom three which is a great distance, but there are still games to play and we have to keep going.
“Nobody in the dressing-from is saying that we’re safe, but this is a big step.
“We’re close, really, really close, and we know that and it’s a good feeling, but the job isn’t done.
“There are still a lot of games to play and a lot of points to play for.
“It’s important for us to be in this position, and it’s a very strong position, but we need to make sure that we do the job and that our main target is done as quickly as possible.”
Newcastle had to be patient against Huddersfield, who were fortunate to get into the break still on level terms.
The goal arrived 10 minutes from time as Christian Atsu sent over a teasing cross.
Keeper Jonas Lossl got a hand to the ball, but could only help it on to Kenedy, beyond the far post, and the Chelsea loanee squared unselfishly for Perez to snatch a priceless victory.
“To be honest, the team’s playing well at the moment,” said 24-year-old Perez.
“They were sitting back waiting to try and counter-attack, and that just shows they were worried about us.
“We have a lot of options at the minute and I think we were patient, which was important. You can get desperate when you play against this type of team, but we didn’t do that. We were patient and were creating chances right the way through.”
Newcastle: Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummett, Ritchie (Atsu 67), Shelvey, Diame (Hayden 79), Kenedy, Perez, Gayle (Slimani 75). Subs not used: Clark, Murphy, Manquillo, Darlow. Booked: Lascelles. Goal: Perez 80
Huddersfield: Lossl, Smith (Mounie 83), Jorgensen, Schindler, Kongolo, Kachunga (Quaner 56), Hogg, Mooy, van La Parra (Malone 86), Depoitre, Pritchard. Subs not used: Billing, Coleman, Ince, Hadergjonaj. Booked: Mooy, Hogg, Schindler, Quaner
Ref: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire).