Pardew: I've never seen a goal Arfa's good

 

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The Independent Online

Alan Pardew hailed Hatem Ben Arfa's goal as "the greatest I have ever seen" after the midfielder's equaliser reinvigorated Newcastle to beat Blackburn 2-1 on Saturday.

Jonas Gutierrez won the game deep into injury time, lofting his effort over goalkeeper Mark Bunn, after Ben Arfa had levelled David Goodwillie's first-half goal with a sublime 70th-minute run and left-footed shot.

Pardew, the Newcastle manager , said: "It's the greatest goal, in my opinion, I have ever seen with my eyes because just the technical part of it – to beat six players, to skip past people, left foot, right foot, cutback, accelerate, everything that was involved in it – it was an unbelievable goal. I am absolutely chuffed for him."

Gutierrez also praised the French winger. "There was a lot of pressure on him because he has not played as much as he would have wanted. He wants to play more, so it was important for his confidence," said Gutierrez, whose side prevailed even without the star pair of Demba Ba and Cheick Tioté, who are away on African Cup of Nations duty.

"We need all the players now more than ever," he added. "We don't have Cheick and Demba, so we need all the players focused, so it is really good for him to get the confidence."

Elsewhere, David Wheater is hopeful that the possible departure of fellow defender Gary Cahill will give him the chance to cement a place in Bolton's first team, after he saved Owen Coyle's side with a late equaliser in a 2-2 draw at Macclesfield.

Wheater's 77th-minute header rescued Bolton from the humiliation of a third-round defeat to the League Two team. Cahill's exit could revive Wheater's career, which has somewhat stalled ever since Fabio Capello selected him for the England squad in 2008. Wheater said: "I want to be playing and if Gaz [Cahill] does go I will miss him as he's a good friend of mine, but it means there is a chance to get in the team and, hopefully, stay there."

Harry Redknapp expects Giovani dos Santos to leave Tottenham this month, even though the Mexican scored one and set up the other two goals in a 3-0 win over Cheltenham at White Hart Lane.

Dos Santos turned down a £13m move to Udinese last summer, the striker now preferring a transfer to Seville, and the Tottenham manager said: "Gio will move if we get the right player [to replace him]. He's looking to move. We had a big bid from Italy last summer but he wants to go back to Spain."

Clint Dempsey believes Fulham can challenge for the Cup after the American scored a hat-trick to help his side beat Charlton 4-0 at Craven Cottage on Saturday.

"If we play the football we know we are capable of, we can go all the way," said Dempsey, who slotted home in the first-half and completed his treble after the break before team-mate Damien Duff struck a fourth.

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