By Russell Edge

17th Sep, 2017 | 1:38pm

Benitez identifies key to Newcastle United victory over Stoke

By Russell Edge

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez has said his team’s character was the key to their success over Stoke on Saturday.

The Magpies saw off the Potters at St James’ Park, with Christian Atsu opening the scoring before Xherdan Shaqiri’s second half equaliser meant that it was a nervy end for fans and players alike.

However club captain Jamaal Lascelles repeated his goal scoring heroics from last week’s victory over Swansea to snatch the three points once again.

After the match, boss Benitez paid credit to his side’s work ethic, insisting that it was the catalyst to secure the victory.

He also praised the passion of the home supporters, who he feels helped encourage the players over the line.

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He was quoted by the Chronicle as saying: “The main thing is the togetherness, the work-rate, the character, the whole team, the connection with the fans because the fans appreciate that.

“This is something that’s really important, players who want to stay, want to fight, want to defend the black and white shirt, and they are doing that.

“The fans, they appreciate that and for us to do that every week and the captain leading by example is something that you have to be really pleased with.

“They (the fans) can enjoy it, we have to enjoy it.”

Lascelles’ header was the seventh goal of his Newcastle career, while Atsu’s strike was his first ever Premier League goal, despite his time with both Chelsea and Everton.

The Magpies have chalked up three successive victories which have seen them rocket up to fourth in the Premier League table with nine points, a point ahead of the likes of Tottenham, Huddersfield and Liverpool.

Their next match sees them make the long journey down to the south coast to take on fellow promoted side Brighton next Sunday.

In other Newcastle United news, a striker has hit out after a lack of playing time forced left him looking for a transfer.

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