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Following their FA Cup exit at the hands of Oxford on Saturday, Newcastle’s struggles continued as they were held to a 2 – 2 draw by Queens Park Rangers at the St James’ Park on Wednesday night, and that subsequently saw them fail to temporarily return to the top of the Championship table.
It took the Magpies less than a minute to open the scoring, with Jonjo Shelvey volleying the ball in after Rangers defence failed to properly clear Isaac Hayden’s cross.
The midfielder was scoring his first goal since the 6-nil demolition of QPR back in September, but there wasn’t going to be a rout this time around.
Despite both sides coming close to getting the 2nd goal of the encounter in an exciting first half, the visitors were the ones that had better chances, with Luongo failing to finish well on 2 great occasions. But they soon got their much-deserved equalizer, with Washington putting them back into the game from close range with a minute from half time.
9 minutes after play resumed, Hayden once again played the role of a creator, with his cross allowing Ritchie to power in a header that helped Newcastle restore the lead.
Benitez patiently waited for a goal that would put the game to bed, but none came as Shelvey, Gouffran, and Perez could only come close to scoring. They were punished for the missed chances, though, as a cross from Kazenga Lualua forced Clark into a clearance which could only sail beyond the helpless Darlow.
The result leaves Newcastle in 2nd place, 4 points ahead of Reading though they still have a game in hand. With the lost 2 points putting them at the risk of failing to win the top prize, further slips would be dangerous for Benitez’s side at this point of the campaign.
Below is how his charges are rated:
The own goal left him completely stranded while he couldn’t do anything to stop the first.
Made some vital saves to deny the visitors and covered up for a Paul Dummett mistake.
Failed to hold his defence together and was below average in both halves as he didn’t provide needed strength at the back.
Had some shaky moments and almost cost the side only for Darlow to rescue him out.
Made some vital interceptions and did well going forward.
Was all about the attack, making some few dangerous crosses inside Rangers’ box but his defending left little to be desired, and he did lose possession on some occasions.
Was generally an average performer for the majority of the game, but he had a hand in both goals with his crosses too much for the Rangers’ defence to deal with.
His own goal might have just cost Newcastle the title, and it was a bad way to cap off a game in which he was considerably decent.
Wasn’t able to exert his influence on the game from the wings but was slightly better when he switched to attack.
Fired in a cracker and came close to a brace that needed to be brilliantly saved.
He was all over the place all game, trying to carve out chances and dictating the pace of the game.
Banged in a well-placed and powerful header that saw him notch his 11th goal of the season in a man-of-the-match performance.
Spurned several chances to help Newcastle secure what should have been an easy win.
Couldn’t be influential in attack as he hardly saw the ball, and his pace wasn’t enough to beat QPR defence on the few occasions he did.
Couldn’t do much to get the much needed 3rd goal and was at the receiving end of a stamping by Lynch.
Rating: Not Available