SWANSEA, Wales — Newcastle gave ailing manager Rafa Benitez something to cheer by beating Swansea 1-0 on Sunday, spoiling Renato Sanches’ first experience of the English Premier League.
Having earlier cleared a shot off his own goal line, Jamaal Lascelles headed home the winner from a corner in the 77th minute as Newcastle picked up a second straight victory.
The 57-year-old Benitez wasn’t at Liberty Stadium after having a procedure on Monday to address an infection resulting from an earlier hernia operation. He had been in such pain this week that he hadn’t been able to travel to training.
Sanches made his debut for Swansea after joining on loan from Bayern Munich in a surprise transfer on the final day of the summer transfer window.
The Portugal midfielder endured a difficult start to life in the Premier League, battling hard but often giving away possession before being substituted in the 69th minute.
The 20-year-old Sanches was being talked about as Portugal’s natural heir to Cristiano Ronaldo after helping his national team win last year’s European Championship title, where he won the Young Player of the Tournament award. He joined Bayern on one of the richest contracts in Bundesliga history, for a transfer fee that could climb to about $90 million, but struggled for game time last season.