Rafael Benitez was already a popular man in a particular region of the North West, but his status rose a little higher on Tuesday night when Newcastle United defeated their promotion rivals in what could be a crucial result.
The Magpies went 1-0 down in the 14th minute when Glenn Murray’s penalty put Brighton ahead, and it looked as though Chris Hughton’s men would end the night with all three points.
However, Mohamed Diame scored a fluke equaliser, which was flicked into the top corner off the side of his boot in the 81st minute.
Substitute Ayoze Perez found the winner with one minute of normal time left on the clock, and the result has now given Newcastle a two-point advantage at the top of the Championship table over Brighton.
Most importantly, though, eight points separate the North-East outfit from third-placed Huddersfield Town which increased their chances of sealing automatic promotion rather than go through the playoff route.
Earlier this month, The The Express reported that Benitez could walk away from Newcastle at the end of the season due to his unhappiness that owner Mike Ashley did not release enough funds in the January transfer window.
Given how much the former Liverpool boss was praised on Twitter after Tuesday’s match, most would be devastated to see him go.
— Mark (@NUFCRafalution) March 1, 2017
— Michael Martin (@tfeditor1892) February 28, 2017
Rafa Benitez & Chris Hughton. Two of the best and human managers in championship. Hope both go up #NUFC
— NUFC WORLD (@Toontoonarmyarm) February 28, 2017
Rafa Benitez the tactical genius #nufc
— Garry Wildin (@Wildin9) February 28, 2017
— Tom Jones (@tomsjones) February 28, 2017
— Rob Nicholson (@rob_nicka) February 28, 2017
I lost faith, I lost hope, I consigned myself to second place. Rafa Benitez proves me wrong #NUFC
— Rohan Banerjee (@RBanerjee23) February 28, 2017
— James Hocking© (@JimmyHock22) March 1, 2017