Kieran Trippier’s free-kick strike helped Newcastle United beat Aston Villa 1-0 at St James’ Park, as the ‘Magpies’ recorded three consecutive Premier League (PL) victories for the first time since November 2018.
Neither side were at their attacking best in the first-half, as they both struggled to create clear-cut opportunities. The hosts looked the likelier to score first though, with Ryan Fraser’s ball to the near post almost finding striker Chris Wood, before Joe Willock curled an effort from 25 yards out harmlessly over the crossbar.
That all changed on the half-hour mark, when referee Craig Pawson awarded the ‘Magpies’ a penalty for a foul on Willock by Calum Chambers, before a VAR check concluded that the contact was made just outside the area. The ‘Villans’ breathed a sigh of relief, but from the resulting free-kick Trippier found the net, with a slight deflection off the leg of Emliano Buendía giving goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez no chance. This set-piece strike saw Newcastle become the first team to score a direct free-kick in three consecutive Premier League matches since Liverpool in 2013.
The visitors had the better of the opening exchanges of the second-half, but they nearly found themselves two goals behind when livewire Allan Saint-Maximin curled narrowly wide of the right post with his shot from the edge of the area. The ‘Magpies’ lost the influential Trippier to injury three minutes after the break, and almost immediately they began to look more vulnerable defensively. Steven Gerrard’s side began to take advantage of the Englishman’s absence, and thought they had been rewarded for their improved display when Ollie Watkins poked the ball home from close range, but after a lengthy VAR check the striker was adjudged to be offside.
The ‘Villans’ were undoubtedly the team in the ascendency in the second-half, but for all their possession and threatening build-up play they were unable to find an equaliser, as their three-game unbeaten run came to an end. Newcastle, meanwhile, have not tasted defeat in six outings now, as they move four points clear of the relegation zone.