Newcastle United returned to the top of the Championship thanks to a late comeback at the Amex Stadium to beat title rivals, Brighton. The Seagulls had been leading for the majority of the match, but the visitors fought hard and deserved to take something from the game. This was always going to have huge ramifications on the promotion picture and it was Rafael Benitez’s team that delivered the better performance. They now have to perform at a similar level against Huddersfield Town and Reading in order to consolidate their position. Here are three things that we learned.
Matt Ritchie is leading the promotion charge
Although they have been at the top of the division for nearly the entire season, the Magpies have been inconsistent in recent weeks and some players have struggled with the pressure. It is extremely difficult to play for Newcastle in the Championship, due to the expectation and it takes a special sort of player to carry it off. Matt Ritchie has stepped up in recent weeks and he is becoming one of the key figures in this team at St James’ Park. He was the most dangerous attacker for the away side before producing a moment of magic to create the winning goal.
He got the ball just inside his own half and had the confidence to play an incredible cross-field ball to get Christian Atsu in behind the Brighton back four. Ritchie won’t get the assist for the goal, but it was his vision and quality that created it. Every time that a Newcastle player feels under pressure, they look to give the ball to the Scottish international as he is reliable in possession. He played two key passes during the match and came close to getting a goal himself in the first half. There were some areas of his game that weren’t as good as they usually are, but he stood up when it counted and he deserves huge credit for his contribution to the three points.