Newcastle United forward Ayoze Perez believes the Magpies' second goal in their 3-0 win over Southampton was "important," and has stressed that it was the crucial moment in their bid to avoid relegation.

Rafael Benitez took charge at St James' Park in March 2016. However, the former Liverpool and Real Madrid manager was not successful in helping the Tyneside club avoid relegation in his first few months.

The Spaniard helped Newcastle win the Championship last term, which saw them get promoted to the Premier League. Their latest win over Southampton has seen them climb to the 13th spot. They have 32 points after 30 games, five points ahead of 18th-place Crystal Palace.

Perez said the second goal against the Saints put his side in a dominant position to seal three crucial points. Kenedy scored a brace and it was the Brazilian who netted the second goal. The 24-year-old stressed the on-loan versatile player from Chelsea's strike gave Newcastle a lot of confidence and believes that could be the crucial moment of this season.

"The second goal came at a good time for us and the counter-attack was brilliant in terms of great movement. Everything went well," Perez told the Chronicle.

"It was a great finish which gave us a lot of confidence. To go in at 2-0 up in the first half is something important. It's important in this league and we kept it up in the second half. It was a massive win for us and three important points.

"I'm really happy and the dressing room knew the importance of the result. We did really well and we are one step closer."

Ayoze Perez
Ayoze Perez has scored three goals in 2018 for Newcastle UnitedGetty Images

Perez also spoke about his form in this calendar year, where he has scored three goals. He said, "I'm happy to help others. That's the role of a forward, sometimes you will score, others you will contribute in other ways.

"That is what the manager wants from me. He wants me to be a link between the lines to try to help the wingers and to help Dwight. That's what I am trying to do. It was a great win for me and everybody else was happy."