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Newcastle United 6-0 Preston North End

Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez Credit: PA

Newcastle United have booked their place in the quarter finals of the EFL Cup, after a resounding win against Preston North End this evening.

Two goals each from Mitrovic and Diame contributed to a 6-0 scoreline at St James' Park.

The Magpies will meet Preston again in the league this weekend.

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Rotherm 0 - 1 Newcastle United. A fan's blog:

Newcastle United's Christian Atsu is challenged by Rotherham United's Darnell Fisher. Credit: Jon Buckle/PA Wire/Press Association Images

By Stuart Stratford.

A moment of class from Christian Atsu gave Newcastle United three points at the New York Stadium thisafternoon, sending the Magpies into second place in the Championship. It wasn’t always the prettiest of football at Rotherham but Newcastle were effective in claiming the win that they so desperately wanted. As much as we might want open and flamboyant football each weekend, promotion is more likely to be won off the back of wins such as today.

Rotherham may be struggling for points at the bottom of the table but they pushed the title favourites harder than most sides will this season. Newcastle, with the backing of the raucous Toon Army, repelled the South Yorkshire hordes and should have won more convincingly than the final scoreline reflects.

Of the Newcastle defence, Ciaran Clark stands out for special mention. Just as he did at Villa Park, the Irishman was in fine form, leading by example and forming a solid partnership with Jamaal Lascelles.

Both sides traded early chances with Ward and Gouffran serving notice that neither side was willing to cede ground or the points easily. Rotherham worked a head of steam but the Magpies defence resisted their hosts’ advances comfortably until Taylor clipped the bar on the quarter hour mark.

At the other end Gouffran saw his shot blocked whilst Shelvey blazed high and wide from the rebound. This wasn’t pretty and frustrations began to grow on both the pitch and touchline. Newcastle had the width and the delivery, just not the finishing touch.

As we settled in for a long afternoon, the breakthrough came. Half-time was but five minutes away when Shelvey found Atsu on the right. The on-loan Chelsea cut inside and let rip with a stunning strike into the far corner, past the flailing right hand of Lee Camp.

The advantage rested with Newcastle at the interval but they were being made to fight every inch of the way for the victory but without pain, there is no gain. Rotherham were the quicker of the two sides to settle down in the second half, with early pressure forcing a rearguard action from the Newcastle defence. In the visitors’ midfield, Jack Colback was digging in deep to deny the home side time and space, refusing to let the Millers enjoy time and space as they sought to build attacks.

The visitors were effective on the break with Camp wise to Atsu’s thinking, this time bringing his fingertips to prevent a second for the Ghana international. Mo Diame was becoming more of a pivotal figure for the briefest of spells. After he had released Atsu, he took the opportunity to test Rotherham’s nerves after Anita dribbled down the right to set the late summer signing for a speculative drive. Camp was swift to deny Shelvey when the Newcastle midfielder unleashed a shot from outside of the penalty area and it felt as if the next goal would be decisive. That’s if it came at all with Darlow denying Halford when the Rotherham striker scented a dramatic equaliser. It nearly came when Ball rattled the Newcastle bar; it was time for Geordie nerves to be shredded.

The match ran down with Newcastle boots and heads blocking every piece of danger, resisting the Rotherham pressure as a desperate equaliser was sought. It never came as the gap between the top and bottom of the table became apparent. The killer instinct was missing to give the Millers their just reward. With the need to consolidate their position following the win over Norwich City during midweek, Newcastle dug into their reserves to pull off a crucial win as the international break dominates the football calendar.

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