JAMAAL LASCELLES claims Newcastle United’s hunger and desire were the key to Sunday’s memorable 1-0 win over Manchester United, and remains confident the qualities will ensure the Magpies mount a successful survival battle in the final three months of the season.

Newcastle clambered out of the bottom three as they upset the odds to beat a Manchester United side that had been hanging on to Manchester City’s coat-tails in the Premier League title race prior to their trip to St James’ Park.

Whereas the Magpies had mounted a rear-guard action in the reverse fixture at Old Trafford, they were aggressive and positive from the off on home soil, and their energetic approach clearly unsettled their opponents, who did not look particularly comfortable at any stage.

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From Dwight Gayle and Ayzoe Perez, who were closing down whenever Manchester United’s defenders had the ball, to Lascelles and Florian Lejeune, who were happy to stand their ground in a physical battle with the powerful Romelu Lukaku, Newcastle’s players refused to cede an inch as they claimed their first home win since the middle of October.

At times this season, it has been possible to question the depth of quality within the Magpies squad. At no stage, however, has the attitude of Benitez’s players been in doubt, and their effort and commitment are likely to remain two of their greatest strengths in the remaining 11 games.

“It was a huge win, but it wasn’t a shock for us,” said Lascelles. “Most games we have played this season, we have been really good.

“Man United have some world-class players, but it seemed like we just wanted it a lot more. With the bigger teams, teams like us will always want it a lot more and their quality wasn’t enough to beat us. Our hard work and endeavour was enough to get us over the line.

“All week, the manager had been working on how we could beat these guys, and we stuck to his tactics and got it exactly right.

“We can’t go to toe-to-toe with these teams and try to play football - it is not going to happen.  What we can do is work hard, make it nasty for them and try to make them play how we did, and I can only praise the boys for that.”

While Lascelles’ words were clearly intended to praise his team-mates for their application, they can also be interpreted as a damaging criticism of Manchester United’s approach.

Jose Mourinho appeared to accept as much after the game, praising the way in which Newcastle’s players repeatedly threw their bodies on the line to defend their lead, and contrasting that mind-set to the lackadaisical way in which his own team attempted the defend the free-kick from Jonjo Shelvey that resulted in Matt Ritchie’s winning goal.

Neither Paul Pogba nor Nemanja Matic attempted to jump with Lejeune as he nodded down the ball for Ritchie to score, and it was telling that both midfielders were hauled off shortly after Newcastle made their breakthrough.

Pogba was especially disappointing as he failed to live up to his eye-popping £93m price tag, and Lascelles could sense Newcastle’s opponents were not quite at it from an early stage of Sunday’s game.

“They have got some great players, but I don’t think United turned up,” he said. “We have played against Arsenal and Man City and you can really see the quality, and one mistake or a lack of concentration and a goal will go in.

“But I don’t think they (Man United) were at it from the start of the game - a lot of their players went missing It was probably the way we were playing, we made them play like that.

“In the first half, they were making a lot of mistakes, passing the ball around, but it was down to our pressing. We were aggressive, and they didn’t like it.

“You could see their centre-halves on the ball and they didn’t really know what to do with it. We set up really well and we matched up really well against them. The manager got it spot on.”

With Manchester United failing to find a way past Newcastle’s debutant goalkeeper, Martin Dubravka, Ritchie’s strike midway through the second half proved decisive.

Prior to Sunday’s game, the Magpies winger had taken more shots without scoring during the current campaign than any other Premier League player, but he could hardly have chosen a better moment to break his duck.

“Matt has been pretty frustrated recently, but he finally got his goal and hopefully he can start finding the net a bit more often,” said Lascelles. “But overall, it was a massive team performance and the Man of the Match could have gone to anybody.”