Newcastle United 4 Rotherham United 0: Magpies return to top after Millers romp
After Brighton beat Sheffield Wednesday on Friday night, Rafa Benitez's men responded in style against their plucky visitors.
Daryl Murphy's goal got them through a difficult first half in front but they stretched their legs after the break and Matt Ritchie's double and Ayoze Perez's header equalled their biggest home win of the league season.
The win takes them a point clear of Brighton, but boss Benitez will know sterner tests than this lie ahead.
Rotherham, whose annual wage budget is less than the fee Newcastle paid for Ritchie alone, were unlucky to go in at half-time trailing but their fight against relegation, where they sit nine points adrift of safety, will not be decided by a game like this.
Indeed, having picked up just a solitary point on the road, this was always going to be an attack versus defence exercise.
Newcastle duly dominated possession, but came up against a resolute Millers who were not prepared to give anything away for free.
Still Benitez's men managed to create some decent opportunities, the best of which saw Perez burst through on goal only to thrash an effort over the crossbar from 12 yards.
But it was Rotherham who should have taken the lead in the 38th minute, goalkeeper Karl Darlow redeeming himself after an embarrassing slip.
Darlow overslid when coming to collect the ball, allowing Anthony Forde to steal possession. The Millers winger looked like he had his legs clipped by Darlow but stayed on his feet and teed up Jerry Yates, who incredibly saw his shot heroically saved by the stretching Newcastle keeper.
And Newcastle made the most of their reprieve as they took the lead in first-half injury time. Jonjo Shelvey's long free-kick found DeAndre Yedlin, who cut back to Murphy to turn and fire home his third goal of the season.
It was cruel on the Millers but it set up a predictable second half, where Newcastle boosted their already impressive goal difference.
Ritchie doubled the lead four minutes after the restart when he tapped home a rebound from Yoan Gouffran's saved shot and then Perez added a third when he headed home Yedlin's cross at the near post 10 minutes later.
Benitez's men continued to pepper Rotherham's goal with efforts, as Shelvey missed a sitter, but their fourth came 13 minutes from time as Ritchie slotted home from inside the area.
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