Alan Pardew delighted with Newcastle strike partnership

 

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew is confident the fledgling partnership between strikers Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba is starting to blossom.

The pair are Senegal internationals, but had played little football together until Cisse arrived on Tyneside in January.

However, his third goal in four home games was enough to condemn Norwich to a 1-0 defeat as the growing understanding between the two frontmen began to pay dividends.

Pardew said: "They were a little bit closer together, and that worked better for us.

"If you are going to play two out-and-out strikers like they are, you have got to ask them to work, and they really put in a shift because that extra midfield player Norwich had started to get a grip at times.

"If you can manage to contain it and be able to deal with it, then you have got two goalscorers on the pitch, and that might have been the difference today."

The game was settled by Cisse's instinctive 11th-minute strike as he got ahead of Zak Whitbread to turn home Jonas Gutierrez's left-wing cross.

However, he was denied a first-half hat-trick by keeper John Ruddy, who also kept Ba at bay with a fine reaction save to ensure the Canaries remained in the game until the death.

Indeed, Tim Krul had to save from Anthony Pilkington and Whitbread after the break, and the Dutchman was relieved to see Steve Morison scuff an injury-time shot straight at him as the home side held out.

Cisse's contribution proved decisive, and Pardew is convinced there is much more to come from his big-money signing.

He said: "I thought he had his best game for us, not just the fact that he threatened the goal, but his link-up play, his work-rate were right up there with the best in this division.

"I am really pleased he got the goal, and perhaps should have had two. In training, he bangs three or four goals in in quick succession, and it surprised me that he missed them, actually."

While disappointed at the result, Norwich manager Paul Lambert saw enough to suggest his side will put in a strong finish to their first season back in the top flight to secure another.

He said: "On that performance, I am pretty sure we will. They don't need me to stand in there and tell them they were unlucky.

"That performance will give everybody a big lift.

"I thought we were excellent against Manchester United and lost as well, but in the last couple of weeks, that's been as good as anything that we have played.

"I always think we can score at any time and on another day, we might have got one."

PA

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