Sky-SNF350Newcastle United recorded an excellent 2-0 victory at Derby’s Pride Park Stadium, currently known officially as the iPro Stadium for sponsorship purposes, in yesterday’s televised game on Sky Sports.

This was United’s fourth Championship win in a row as the wake-up call delivered in the first two games appears to have been heeded.

It was also United’s third clean sheet in a row – a statistic which no doubt will please manager Rafa Benitez more than any other.

This game demonstrated yet again the rapid progress which is being made under Rafa and his coaches, with an excellent all-round team performance and result built on a rock of a defence.

Strong defence is not a phrase that has been associated with Newcastle United teams for many years, but make no mistake, this United team is proving harder for anyone to score against as each game passes.

This result, and the 2-0 scoreline, propelled United to second place in the Championship table behind Huddersfield Town who won at Leeds, and above Barnsley on goal difference – for whom Toon loanee Adam Armstrong struck a classy winner.

This was a great team effort, hopefully the first of many this season.

Here’s our take on how each starting player did:

Sels – Our keeper could have gone for a pint really, as Derby struggled to create many chances. But he was there on the 2 occasions he was needed, and his confidence is clearly on the up as he realises what a good defence he has in front of him.

Anita – Mr Versatile was Rafa’s first-choice right back again and put in another solid display

Mbemba & Lascelles – These two are developing what looks like an excellent central defensive parnership. Strong, quick, and positional sense no doubt drilled into them by Rafa’s coaches

Dummett – The lad did a good job and will be aware he now has strong competition for his position

Colback – Some United fans have been doubting “Wor Jack” lately – but it has to be said, he did a great job protecting the back 4, seemed to be everywhere

Jonjo – class act, glued the team together with his passing and created the second goal from nothing.

Ritchie – work, work, work – always on the move and always an outlet

Diame – Like Colback, he covered every blade of grass – and looked a bit knackered at the end. Sissoko with a heart and for a lot less money.

Gouffy – The comeback kid put in a full shift and scored a great goal.

Gayle – No goals tonight this time but full of running and always had Derby’s alarm bells ringing as he kept their defence busy

Manager Rafa Benitez had this to say after the game to Sky Sports:

“To be fair, the lads did really well. Our idea was to try to control the game, but we knew at the same time they can pass the ball – they can play well between the lines with wingers really wide running behind defenders.”

“As I have said in previous interviews, there is plenty of room for improvement but the team is doing well. For a while, we were doing quite well and then we were under a little bit of pressure, but we won and we can take a lot of positives from this game.”

“For us, the most important thing is to win. We had to work very hard in defence, but at the same time try to keep the ball, move the ball and create something in attack. In the end, it was a perfect result, but a tough game.”

In later interviews, Rafa was already looking ahead to Tuesday’s game at Queens Park Rangers.

The players have been called in for training today and no doubt there will be a few changes to the team. Looking at the quality of the players who were left out yesterday, or didn’t even make the bench however, it’s great to see the depth of the squad we now have in comparison to the threadbare squads of recent years.

Man Of The Match: It would be wrong to single out one player from what was a true team effort. So our Man (and woman) of the match award goes to the magnificent travelling Toon Army – who sang throughout the match and gave the lads massive support. “Ritchie’s F*****g magic, he wears a magic hat…..”

Newcastle United: Sels, Anita, Mbemba, Lascelles, Dummett, Colback, Shelvey, Gouffran (Yedlin 73), Ritchie, Diame (Hayden 88), Gayle (Perez 76)

Subs Not Used: Darlow, Clark, Lazaar, Mitrovic

Crowd: 30,405 (Newcastle 3,200-ish)

What do you think? As ever, we would welcome your comments, opinions and views below.

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