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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 June 2018

Huddersfield continue to ride wave of positivity to beat Newcastle United

Second straight win for relatively small club since their promotion to Premier League.

Huddersfield Town’s Aaron Mooy celebrates scoring their first goal as Newcastle United’s Robert Elliot looks dejected. Carl Recine / Reuters
Huddersfield Town’s Aaron Mooy celebrates scoring their first goal as Newcastle United’s Robert Elliot looks dejected. Carl Recine / Reuters

It just gets better for Huddersfield. Deemed arguably the greatest outsiders in Premier League history by their manager, David Wagner, they instead find themselves level on points at the division’s summit. There may only be two games gone but the underdogs are among the top dogs. It is a feat to support Wagner’s mantra that there are no limits in life.

Huddersfield’s first home game in the top flight for 45 years would have been a memorable occasion whatever happened. Aaron Mooy rendered it a happy affair for the majority, his delicious decider making Huddersfield only the third promoted team in Premier League history to win their opening two games.

“Unbelievable,” Wagner said.

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Huddersfield have come up with momentum and a feelgood factor. Newcastle, conspicuously lacking both, suffered a second successive defeat. They have got neither a goal nor a point and an uninspired side were exposed by a more energetic, more enterprising Huddersfield outfit.

They allied collective commitment and organisation with individual inspiration when, capping a move of 14 passes, Mooy played a one-two with Elias Kachunga before bending his shot into the far corner of the Newcastle net.

“Top-class quality,” Wagner said. “A special goal,” Mooy added.

There was no more fitting scorer. The Australian midfielder was the game’s outstanding individual, the creator of two goals at Crystal Palace last week and, as Huddersfield’s player of the year last season, arguably the biggest on-field contributor to their promotion.

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He became Huddersfield’s record signing this summer – admittedly, so did three others did – and indicated that £10 million (Dh47.3m) has been well spent. That, after a largely uneventful first half, the goal came so soon into the second pointed to Wagner’s motivational powers.

The Huddersfield manager was Jurgen Klopp’s best man and the Town supporters asserted he is his superior. “He’s better than Klopp,” the chant came.

As Rafa Benitez’s time at Liverpool included a Champions League triumph, he could make the same claim. Yet he could only envy a manager allowed to break a transfer record four times in a summer.

Newcastle’s performance underlined the lack of quality which is attributable to a lack of investment. Nine of the starting 11 were at St James’ Park last season, not something Benitez would have envisaged when he planned to have two teams: one to get promotion and another, more expensive and stronger, assembled thereafter.

They looked a Championship team. They may be one again in nine months.

Benitez deemed it “a learning process". His gameplan can be based on elimination of errors and conceded: “We made one mistake.” They could not compensate at the other end. Their threat was sporadic. Huddersfield goalkeeper Jonas Lossl excelled on his debut at Selhurst Park. He maintained that form with a brilliant diving stop to tip Matt Ritchie’s precise effort wide.

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It was the only alarm until the otherwise anonymous Ayoze Perez volleyed over when he should have scored. The striking substitute Joselu at least added presence. Dwight Gayle, while denied by a superb Christopher Schindler challenge, had offered little. Nor were Newcastle as compact as most Benitez teams: Huddersfield were afforded too much space between the lines.

“We cannot be happy,” the Spaniard concluded.

St James’ Park has scarcely seemed a happy camp this summer. Huddersfield, in contrast, are surfing a wave of positivity.