Aston Villa. . . . . .1
NEWCASTLE rehearsed their rousing Song for Europe last night that, pending the last couple of verses, could well see them travelling abroad for the first time in 16 years.
On a memorable Tyneside occasion, when Andy Cole created a new club record of 40 goals in a season, a typically buccaneering United performance took them three points clear of Arsenal, their main rivals for the third Premiership place which should ensure Uefa Cup qualification.
Yet United found themselves a goal down after just 11 minutes. Andy Townsend's header inside was gathered in acres of space by the young German Stefan Beinlich, who proceeded to drive low past Pavel Srnicek from 15 yards.
However the Magpies, in a series of swooping moves, scored three times before the break. In the 16th minute Paul Bracewell rifled the sweetest of 25-yarders beyond Nigel Spink and soon after Peter Beardsley scored from the penalty spot after he had been tripped just inside the box by Steve Staunton.
However this was only the preamble to the main event which arrived three minutes before the interval. Scott Sellars slotted a clever pass inside Staunton and when Cole rounded Spink the old club record of 39 goals in a season, held previously by Hughie Gallacher (1926-27) and George Robledo (1951-52) had gone.
Forced on to the back foot in the second half, Villa's cause was not helped by a nasty ankle injury to Shaun Teale and a fourth goal arrived in the 68th minute, Beardsley scoring the best of the game with a superb rising shot into the top corner of the net.
It was left for Sellars to inflict on Villa the worst defeat they had suffered since Ron Atkinson took over as manager in 1991, United's midfielder being left with the easiest flick nine minutes from time.
Newcastle United (4-4-2): Srnicek; Venison, Peacock, Neilson, Beresford; Fox, Bracewell (Watson, 70), Lee, Sellars; Beardsley, Cole (Mathie, 87). Substitute not used: Hooper (gk).
Aston Villa (4-4-2): Spink; Barrett, Teale (Daley, 51), Ehiogu, Staunton; Houghton, Richardson, Townsend, Farrell (Breitkreutz, 70); Beinlich, Fenton. Substitute not used: Oakes (gk).
Referee: J W Lloyd (Wrexham).Reuse content