RAFA BENITEZ refused to be drawn on fresh takeover talk at Newcastle United when he outlined his delight at seeing his team turn in a match-winning display to boost the fight for Premier League survival.

Defender Fabian Schar was the unlikely goal-hero to lift the Magpies out of the bottom three again.

The summer signing, back in defence after a midweek outing in midfield, scored the first two goals to put Newcastle on track for a 3-0 win over rivals for relegation Cardiff City. Ayoze Perez added the late third.

Newcastle looked comfortable for the majority of the game in front of owner Mike Ashley, who is understood to be ready to call time on his attempts to sell this month, on his first appearance at St James’ Park since November 10.

“The main thing is to see the team fighting. It was a big game for everyone, and a bad position is now better,” said Benitez.

“Against these teams you can get something if you work hard. Against top sides you can play well.

"The team was playing with confidence, energy and intensity. To score four in the FA Cup at Blackburn in midweek and three here, it has been a good week. Hopefully we can carry on. We have to stick together to the end.”

Schar cost £3m when he moved from Deportivo la Coruna in the summer and has started to really show his quality.

Benitez said: “He did well. He has quality on the ball. He is good at passing and going forward. It is not a question of being a lot of money. He can help.

"He has a lot of confidence in himself. He knows his ability. When he doesn't play he is not happy. He wanted to show his quality.”

Asked about the reports that Ashley is giving up on selling this month and suggestions, which are being denied, that Dennis Wise is to return as executive director, he said: “I am not talking about the transfer window or the takeover. I cannot control those things.”

He added: "I cannot control the money but at least I can say yes or no (to players)."

A fine solo effort got Newcastle in front in the 24th minute when Schar was allowed to run from deep and fully 25 yards before slotting a fine left-footed finish inside the bottom left corner.

And even though Cardiff occasionally attempted to threaten, Schar turned in a Jamaal Lascelles flick from Matt Ritchie’s corner at close range to extend Newcastle’s lead.

Just when Cardiff pressed late on, Newcastle then added number three in stoppage-time when Perez tapped in from close range to finish off a counter-attack that saw Salomon Rondon deliver a low cross.

The result never really looked in any doubt after the Schar’s brace and Newcastle climbed up to 17th by swapping places with Cardiff to end a run of five matches without a win. It was also only the third time in 12 Premier League matches that Newcastle have won at home.

NEWCASTLE UNITED (3-4-2-1): Dubravka; Lascelles, Lejeune, Schar; Yedlin, Hayden, Longstaff, Ritchie (Manquillo 84); Atsu, Perez; Rondon. Subs: Woodman (gk), Sterry, Clark, Roberts, Murphy, Joselu.

CARDIFF CITY (4-2-3-1): Etheridge; Peltier, Manga, Bamba, Bennett; Camarasa, Ralls; Mendez-Laing (Murphy 82), Paterson (Ward 89), Hoilett; Niasse (Decordova-Reid 64). Subs: Smithies (gk), Cunningham, Gunnarsson, Harris.