James: As soon as it left my foot I knew it was a goal

After yesterday’s 3-0 victory over Newcastle United, Reece James talks us through his two goals and explains why it was a much tougher match than the scoreline suggests.

We were the dominant team throughout the match at St James’ Park, but found ourselves facing stubborn opponents determined to deny us the three points in front of their own fans, who were still riding on a high after the club’s recent takeover.

However, two goals from James in the space of 12 second-half minutes completely changed the complexion of the game and effectively secured us the win, as the Magpies had no answer to get back into the game, even before Jorginho’s penalty made it 3-0.

As well as taking our right wing-back to an impressive three goals in his last two Premier League appearances, his two strikes in Newcastle were pleasing on the eye, as he rocketed the first into the top corner with his left foot before showing control to fire an awkwardly bouncing ball straight down the middle from a similar position.

‘I think the first one was probably better, it was on my weaker foot and it was a good finish,’ said James after the game. ‘The ball came to me in the box and I was going to take it first time but I decided to take a touch and it opened up on my left, so I cut inside and took it on my left foot. The strike was good, as soon as it left my foot I knew it was a goal.

‘The second one was easier, the goalie wasn’t really in the goal. It was almost an empty goal so I just put my foot through it!’

He also acknowledged that we had to be patient when striving to make that breakthrough at St James’ Park, highlighting that our opponents were no pushovers in their first home game under interim manager Graeme Jones, who coached Reece and our other England internationals during Euro 2020.

In the end, our patience and faith in our own methods helped us power through until the goals arrived after a double substitution and tactical tweak by Thomas Tuchel in the second half.

‘We knew coming here was going to be a very tough game. We had to break them down and it took a lot of time. We tried many times in the first half but as we saw they’re a very strong and organised side, especially at home with their home support.

‘We knew it was going to be tough to break them down and it would take some time. Of course it’s very frustrating but you have to keep banging away and the chance will come as long as you keep knocking on the door.’

Picking up the win over Newcastle was made even more satisfying by the fact that Liverpool’s draw with Brighton and Manchester City’s loss to Crystal Palace meant we extended our lead at the top of the Premier League table to three points.

‘Coming away from home to St James’ Park, which is a tough place, and picking up three points when the two teams behind have dropped points is obviously a great result for us and puts us in a strong position.

‘Everyone loves playing and everyone wants to win, the team spirit in the changing room at the moment is unbelievable.’

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