HUDDERSFIELD, England (REUTERS) - Newcastle United moved clear of the Premier League's relegation zone after a second-half goal from Salomon Rondon gave them an opportunist 1-0 win at Huddersfield Town in a scrappy clash on Saturday (Dec 15).
The result lifted Newcastle to 14th position on 16 points from 17 games, six points more than 18th-placed Huddersfield who suffered their fourth successive league defeat.
Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez praised his team but warned them to keep their feet on the ground.
"I said so many times this group of players deserves credit and today they came together and worked hard," Benitez told the BBC.
"We gave the ball away a little bit in the first half, but in the second half we were better organised. The idea was to exploit them on the counter-attack and the space behind them.
"My players are doing well but we can improve little things. Today it was clear with a couple more details we would have had more chances."
Venezuela striker Rondon capped a superb breakaway move in the 55th minute after Newcastle had weathered a series of Huddersfield attacks which produced plenty of long balls and crosses but no clear-cut chances.
Visiting keeper Martin Dubravka tipped over the bar a Philip Billing free kick from 30 metres in the first half and also kept out a stinging low shot by Chris Lowe after Rondon had silenced the home fans in driving rain.
At the other end, Huddersfield keeper Jonas Lossl denied Christian Atsu and Fabian Schar from close range as Newcastle always looked more likely to break the deadlock.
The bruising contest produced its best moment when Ayoze Perez released Javier Manquillo and the right back squared the ball for Rondon to steer it past Lossl from eight metres.
Huddersfield threw men forward in search of an equaliser in the closing stages but their barrage of raids down both flanks came to nothing as Newcastle's packed defence held firm.