Newcastle United took a huge step towards Premier League safety and extended their fine home run with a 1-0 victory over Huddersfield Town at St James' Park.
Ayoze Perez's 80th-minute winner settled a nervy contest on Saturday, Newcastle deservedly taking the three points after missing a series of first-half chances.
Dwight Gayle was most guilty of wastefulness, but it was Kenedy - twice a scorer last time out - who was cool enough in the closing stages to pick out Perez to break the deadlock.
After a run of five straight defeats on Tyneside, Rafael Benitez's side are now unbeaten in seven at home in all competitions, winning the last three to move within two victories of the 40-point mark targeted by the Newcastle manager for top-flight survival.
Huddersfield's situation is a little graver, David Wagner's men having not scored in four matches as they face a tough run-in in their own bid to preserve Premier League status.
FULL-TIME Newcastle 1-0 Huddersfield
A happy St James' Park after Ayoze Perez's late close-range finish is enough to secure maximum points #NEWHUD pic.twitter.com/4z65k2ozMo — Premier League (@premierleague) March 31, 2018
Newcastle enjoyed the better of the play from the off in a feisty opening to the game, Jonjo Shelvey fizzing the first chance of note just wide from 20 yards after quarter of an hour.
The in-form Matt Ritchie ran through and poked a left-footed finish straight at Jonas Lossl shortly afterwards, before Gayle also shot too close to the goalkeeper.
Gayle then somehow lifted the ball wide when he looked destined to open the scoring, controlling Shelvey's searching pass but failing to keep his effort on target as Lossl charged out.
And Gayle missed another huge chance before the break. DeAndre Yedlin's cross bounced through the area to find the striker, but he could only prod over the crossbar as he stretched to make contact.
Although Newcastle remained on top following the restart, Laurent Depoitre belatedly mustered an opening for Huddersfield, turning away from Florian Lejeune to drag wide.
The visitors should have then led, with Mathias Jorgensen's header from a corner striking team-mate Collin Quaner in front of goal as Martin Dubravka stood rooted, prompting a scramble before the goalkeeper finally pounced on the ball.
Perez acrobatically volleyed wide and substitute Christian Atsu blazed over the top, with Islam Slimani arriving in place of Gayle to a hearty roar from the home supporters.
But finally, with 10 minutes remaining, Newcastle's moment came. Atsu's cross was flicked away from Slimani by Lossl but fell for Kenedy, who teed up Perez to slide the ball inside the bottom-left corner to the relief of the crowd, giving Benitez's men a platform to see out the game.
Key Opta stats:
- Huddersfield Town have now drawn a blank in 12 separate away games in the Premier League this season, just one short of the single season record (13) for failing to score on the most occasions on the road in the competition's history, jointly held by Norwich City in 1994-95, Southampton in 1998-99 and Middlesbrough in 2002-03.
- Ayoze Perez has scored his first Premier League goal at St James' Park since March 5th, 2016 against Bournemouth, 756 days ago.
- Newcastle are now unbeaten in six straight home league games (W3 D3), their best such run in the top flight since December 2014 under Alan Pardew (also six).