Callum Wilson sent Newcastle into Champions League action on the back of a first Premier League win since the opening game of the season as they edged past Brentford at St James’ Park.
The England striker’s 64th-minute penalty proved enough to clinch the points for the Magpies, who had not won since they trounced Aston Villa 5-1 on August 12 and had since slipped to back-to-back defeats by Manchester City, Liverpool and Brighton.
They will now head for Italy for their Champions League opener against AC Milan on Tuesday evening in positive mood after a victory which was achieved without the rested Sandro Tonali and Alexander Isak as head coach Eddie Howe used the depth of his squad.
The Bees will perhaps feel aggrieved at both the penalty decision and the fact that they gave at least as good as they got for long periods in front of a crowd of 51,670, although ultimately they were unable to trouble keeper Nick Pope often enough.
Brentford started brightly with Aaron Hickey and Mathias Jensen combining well down the right, and it took a good near-post save by Pope to keep out Hickey’s fourth-minute attempt from a tight angle after he had been played in by Jensen.
Newcastle enjoyed an escape when Yoane Wissa was unable to make contact with Jensen’s teasing cross as he slid in, but it was the Magpies who very nearly took the lead with 28 minutes gone.
After Fabian Schar’s long-range attempt had been deflected behind, Sven Botman got his head to Kieran Trippier’s corner and flicked the ball to the back post where Bruno Guimaraes saw his close-range effort repelled by keeper Mark Flekken.
Howe’s men, who had been methodical rather than dynamic to that point, were coming to life and Brentford’s problems increased when Rico Henry limped off with what appeared to be a knee injury and was replaced by Mads Roerslev.
Schar had to block a stoppage-time Wissa shot after he had been played in down the left by Vitaly Janelt, but there was nothing to choose between the sides when the half-time whistle sounded.
The second half unfolded much as the first had ended, with Newcastle enjoying the greater share of possession but unable to move the ball quickly or decisively enough to pierce the massed ranks of blue shirts. Brentford were playing on the counter but lacking precision when it mattered.
Schar and Harvey Barnes delivered menacing crosses in quick succession, but neither was able to pick out a team-mate, and although the Magpies did have the ball in the net with 57 minutes gone, referee Craig Pawson disallowed Wilson’s close-range finish for a foul on Flekken during the build-up.
However, they finally forced their way in front seven minutes later with Flekken and Wilson once again the central characters in the drama.
The Netherlands international keeper’s clumsy challenge on Anthony Gordon as full-back Hickey attempted to shield the ball back to him was adjudged by Pawson to be worthy of a penalty.
Wilson, who was made to wait before taking the spot-kick, did not waver as he blasted it high to Flekken’s left to open the scoring.
He thought he had been handed a chance to repeat the dose with 11 minutes remaining when Pawson pointed to the spot for a second time after Barnes’ header had hit the unwitting Bryan Mbeumo’s arm but after being asked to review his decision, the official changed his mind – although Newcastle eased across the finishing line with few real scares.
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