Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle had their relegation worries eased after star striker Ayoze Perez sealed victory for them against Southampton with a sumptuous hat-trick. So without further ado…
1) Hat-trick hero
The Spaniard became the first Newcastle player to score a hat-trick in the Premier League since 2015.
Indeed, Perez proved to be too much for the likes of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and co, and their inability to keep him in check showed in all three of his goals.
For his opener the 25-year-old was able to capitalise on Hojbjerg’s sloppy pass and was found by Isaac Hayden with his back to the goal. Perez turned, held off defenders and evaded Jan Bednarek with his shot.Embed from Getty Images
The celebrations had barely subsided before Perez was at it again with a second goal in quick succession, punishing a sleeping Southampton defence. This time his sparring partner, Salomon Rondon, was the provider.
The hat-trick clinching goal was merely the cherry on the Magpie cake and came in the 86th minute via a redirected Matt Ritchie header – enough to send the St James’ Park faithful into a frenzy.
2) A deadly partnership
Perez may have made all the headlines, but he had some help in the form of his strike partner Rondon.
The Venezuelan has been directly involved in 15 goals for the first time in a single Premier League season with nine goals and six assists to his name – one of which he racked up against Ralph Hasenhüttl’s men.Embed from Getty Images
Were it not for the 29-year-old’s smart thinking, Perez would not have netted his second goal, giving Newcastle some breathing space against a potent Southampton side.
And it has been this partnership that has repeatedly come up with the goods for Newcastle over the season.
3) Drive and determination
Aside from his obvious skill and talent, the Spaniard excels in his endeavour to retain possession, and a general drive and determination to generate goal-scoring chances for his side.
So much so that this season Perez has broken his personal goalscoring record with nine goals scored for the Magpies.Embed from Getty Images
Many of these goals haven’t been powerful strikes, but the sum of hard work, graft and exploiting spaces in and around the defence – evident in his three goals against Southampton last week.
Given that Perez was originally signed from Tenerife for around £3 million, his consistent work on and off the ball merits great plaudit.
4) Honorary mentions
Ayoze Perez may have impressed the most this week, but matchday 35 saw all eyes on Bernardo Silva as Manchester City faced their rivals Manchester United.
With the knowledge that a draw or loss would give Liverpool a huge boost in their pursuit to clinch their first title since 1990, Silva scored a stunning goal to help his side to a big three points.
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