Newcastle United beat Cheltenham Town 2-0 in the EFL Cup second round at St. James' Park.
Newcastle United's Ayoze Perez celebrates with team mates after scoring their first goal
Two goals from Ayoze Perez saw Newcastle United comfortably advance to the third round of the EFL Cup with a 2-0 win over League Two side Cheltenham Town.
It was an injury-hit evening for the Magpies with Rolando Aarons, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Dwight Gayle having to be withdrawn after picking up knocks and even the goalscorer Perez left the field with his head in a bandage.
A lacklustre first half was brought to an end with an individual piece of quality as Perez calmly curled the ball into the bottom corner from just inside the area to make it 1-0 at the break.
Just after the restart United doubled their lead as Gayle pounced on a poor pass to go clean through but the club's top scorer selflessly squared the ball to Perez who tapped it into an empty net.
With a two goal lead, Newcastle came close to adding to their advantage with Perez twice coming close to sealing his hat-trick and Vurnon Anita missing a glorious chance with a header late on.
But it was still a comfortable win for the Championship side as they progressed to the next round and will find out who their opponents are this evening as the draw takes place.
Here are five things we learned from the match:
1. Benitez is prepared to fight on both fronts
Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez
Benitez has shown he is taking the cups seriously as he named a strong line-up and bench against League Two side Cheltenham. 20-year-old Jamie Sterry at right-back was perhaps the only member of the squad who you wouldn't expect to start in the Championship as Benitez made his intentions clear.
In the past Newcastle have been found guilty of playing under strength teams in the cup competitions and have suffered numerous early exits as a consequence.
But it is evident that Benitez is prepared to mount a challenge in the league as well as the cup as he hopes to keep his key players fit.
2. More players are still needed
Newcastle United's Ayoze Perez receives medical treatment after sustaining a injury
If last night's events are anything to go by then Newcastle still need a few more players through the door if they wish to remain competitive in all competitions.
The Magpies picked up four injuries last night as Rolando Aarons was stretchered off while Aleksandar Mitrovic, Dwight Gayle and Ayoze Perez all sustained head injuries and could be a doubt for the weekend's match against Brighton.
The games come thick and fast in the Championship and if Newcastle want to add a cup run to their fixture list, then added squad depth is a must.
3. Mitrovic will take time to adapt
Newcastle United's Aleksandar Mitrovic looks dejected after being substituted
Not only did he pick up an injury but the returning Mitrovic looked slightly off the pace, even against a League Two side in Cheltenham Town. He isn't shy to throw himself about but sometimes that can be a detriment to him as he still awaits his Championship debut.
The 21-year-old is always a threat in the air and can hold the ball up well so it will be interesting to see how he links up with the pace and drive of Dwight Gayle but he'll need to get a few games under his belt first as he looks to get back to full fitness.
A solid performance against the Robins would have been a great boost for his confidence and given him a good platform to work from but sadly it wasn't to be as he didn't last 45 minutes.
4. Cool, Karl and collected - Darlow should be given a chance in the Championship
Newcastle's Karl Darlow
It is no secret that Matz Sels has made a shaky start to life in between the sticks at Newcastle so it was a welcome return for Karl Darlow as he was named in the starting 11 against Cheltenham.
The former Nottingham Forest man ended last season in good form as Newcastle went six games unbeaten which included a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace in which Darlow heroically saved a penalty from former Magpie Yohan Cabaye to ensure three points.
So you wouldn't judge the 25-year-old for feeling slightly aggrieved to see new signing Sels starting ahead of him particularly given the Belgian's less than convincing displays so far. And while Darlow had little to do against the Robbins, he was solid throughout and had an air of confidence about him that has been distinctly lacking from Sels' performances.
Benitez will surely consider starting the Englishman in the Championship sooner rather than later.
5. This could be the confidence boost Ayoze Perez needed
Newcastle United's Ayoze Perez celebrates with team mates after he scoring their second goal
Ayoze Perez is another highly rated talent that has started life in the Championship in slightly underwhelming fashion. He has been poor in possession and struggled with the physicality of the league as his confidence looks to have taken a slight knock.
But on Tuesday evening he was back to his best, albeit against a League Two side but nonetheless, Perez was a constant threat from the left with mazy runs and excellent link-up play a frequent occurrence against the Robbins.
He did pick up a head injury in the first half but managed to soldier on for the rest of the game, bagging two good goals, the first of which was a instinctive curling effort from just inside the box.
It was an excellent display from the young Spaniard and Benitez will be hoping he will be able to carry over the same level of performance into the league.
How far can Newcastle go in the EFL Cup?