Fabian Schar has admitted he surprised himself with the fine solo goal which put Newcastle on the road to a priceless Premier League victory over relegation rivals Cardiff.
The central defender, a £3million bargain buy from Deportivo la Coruna last summer, enhanced his growing reputation with the Magpies fan-base when he worked his way into the Bluebirds’ penalty area before slotting calmly into the bottom corner in what proved to be his club’s third home win of the season.
Switzerland international Schar said: “You don’t think too much when you pick the ball up at that stage, you just try to do something. In this case, everything went well.
“I scored with my left foot, which doesn’t happen too often. But you don’t think you are going to take the ball so far out and score like that.”
Schar’s opener was the launchpad for a morale-boosting win for Rafael Benitez’s men, who ran out in front of a crowd of 49,864 at St James’ Park – significantly down on capacity with talk of a takeover having receded – sitting inside the bottom three.
With controversial owner Mike Ashley back on Tyneside for the first time since they beat Bournemouth on November 10, the central defender added a second goal when he stabbed home from Jamaal Lascelles’ 63rd-minute flick-on, and Ayoze Perez sealed a 3-0 victory in stoppage time.
Schar, who also turned in a stubborn display at the back, was thrilled will his first goals for the club, but insisted the three points were far more important.
He said: “When you score a goal like that and see all those faces going crazy and smiling and celebrating, it is the best feeling you can have as a player.
“It was a special day for me. I scored my first goals and it really helped the team. The three points are more important and it is the perfect day for us.”
Life will become more difficult for the Magpies in the weeks ahead – they face Manchester City, Tottenham and in-form Wolves in their next three league games – by which time the January transfer window will have closed.
Football Paradise understands Ashley had a “cordial” meeting with Benitez after the game as he prepares to fund a recruitment drive he had hoped would be conducted by a new owner, but both men know much hard work is required on and off the pitch if the club is to remain in the top flight.
Cardiff, who handed loan signing Oumar Niasse a debut on Tyneside and announced the capture of £18million club-record signing Emiliano Sala hours after the final whistle, face a similar challenge as manager Neil Warnock reflects upon a disappointing trip to the north-east.
He said: “I didn’t think it was a 3-0 game, if I’m honest – in fact, I felt quite comfortable and then all of a sudden, we conceded a sloppy goal. It’s poor defending, really, and the lad took advantage.
“That’s the final third, really. They were better than us in the final third and they took advantage of that.”
Stay updated with the latest news, gossip and football stories by following us @Football_P