RAFAEL BENITEZ claims Newcastle United need another “two or three wins” to guarantee Premier League safety after this afternoon’s comprehensive 3-0 win over Southampton lifted them five points clear of the bottom three.

The Magpies climbed to 13th position in the table after Kenedy’s first-half double, allied to a second-half strike from Matt Ritchie, enabled them to brush aside a Southampton side that remain in deep trouble.

With eight more games to play, Newcastle have reached the 32-point mark, and Benitez feels that between six and nine more points will be sufficient to guarantee survival.

The Magpies now have a three-week break before returning to action with a home game against Huddersfield Town on March 31, and while Benitez insists he is not too worried about the current league table, safety is now within reach.

“I have seen the table, obviously, but it’s not a big difference for me,” said Benitez. “We knew that we had to win this game, and now we will have in three weeks Huddersfield and it will be another massive game.

“But still we have to win two or three games if we want to be sure that we are in the Premier League next year.”

Newcastle had match-winners all over the field this afternoon, but Kenedy stole the headlines as he scored his first goals since moving from Chelsea in the January transfer window.

The winger opened the scoring after just 63 seconds as he controlled Jonjo Shelvey’s through ball on his chest before swivelling to fire home, and added a second goal midway through the first half as he rounded off a superb counter-attacking move that swept from one end of the field to the other.

“He’s a different kind of player to what we had,” said Benitez. “He’s comfortable on the ball with his left foot, his deliveries, his passes, his shooting, so he's quite comfortable with his left foot.

“He is still a young player who is improving, but he has the potential to grow, to be a much better player.

“It's the challenge for him to be ready for the next team or whatever, but we are happy to see him here and playing well for us.”

Having claimed the lead in only the second minute, Newcastle did not take their foot off the gas as they went on to record their joint-biggest win of the season.

The Magpies have lost a number of points this season by throwing away a winning position, but there was no such sloppiness this afternoon.

“We needed to start with intensity and we did it,” said Benitez. “We scored the goal and after, we were pushing, we were aggressive, we scored a second goal.

“After the game against Bournemouth (when Newcastle threw away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2), we said, ‘We have to kill the game, we need to score the third goal’, so everything was perfect. The commitment of the players and the work rate was fantastic, and also the way that we were playing.

“We knew that Southampton are a good team, that they would have good possession, so we needed to be strong in defence, regain the ball and play good counter-attack. There were a lot of things that we did well today.”