Aston Villa 1 Newcastle 2 match report: Hatem Ben Arfa does his bit to silence Newcastle's critics

Christian Benteke's header had appeared to salvage a draw after Ben Arfa opened the scoring

Villa Park

When Newcastle United last visited Villa Park on a cold night at the end of January, they arrived buoyed by an influx of new signings from France and, with three debutants involved, came away with a 2-1 victory.

Yesterday, fresh from the closing of  a rather quieter, transfer window, there was only one new face – loanee Loïc Remy making his first start – but the outcome was identical. For that, Alan Pardew, the Newcastle manager, had Hatem Ben Arfa to thank.

The Frenchman had scored a spectacular late winner against Fulham in Newcastle’s previous fixture and he played a pivotal part in this victory, scoring the first goal and setting up the second, when he cut in from the right and powered in a shot which Brad Guzan could parry only as far as the substitute Yoan Gouffran with 17 minutes remaining.

Pardew was full of praise for man of the match Ben Arfa – describing him as “magnificent, unplayable really” – and he was also delighted with Remy, the one that got away in January when he opted to join QPR rather than Newcastle, who helped set up his side’s opening goal after 18 minutes.

After Karim El Ahmadi was hustled out of possession by Vernon Anita, Remy got past Matt Lowton down the left and directed a low ball to the six-yard box where Papiss Cissé touched it on and Ben Arfa swept the ball past Guzan.

“For the first time since Demba Ba left I thought we carried an offensive threat that a Newcastle team should have and Loïc Remy has boosted that,” Pardew said.

Victory was no more than Newcastle deserved against a disjointed Villa and it should help dispel some of the gloom that has settled on the Tyne. The club’s former goalkeeper, Steve Harper, spoke about the “toxic relationship” between the club’s board and supporters before his testimonial on Wednesday – a night of warm nostalgia that ended with 1990s heroes like Alan Shearer and Rob Lee adding their own criticism of Mike Ashley’s regime afterwards.

The discontent was clear to see in the away end yesterday where one banner read “You stole the soul”. Another, referring to Joe Kinnear’s return as a director of football, read: “Joke Kinnear: director of f***all”.

Pardew stressed that “the only answer is to win games” and he suggested this performance provided evidence of a strong starting XI at least. “We had our best players available today and anyone here would say we have a strong side with our best team,” he said. “If we keep them fit we have a chance of a good season.”

As for Villa, the optimism engendered by that opening win at Arsenal will fade fast if they keep performing like this. This was their third successive League defeat and their 26th top-flight game without a clean sheet. “We never got going in the first half,” said Lambert, who lost the defender Jores Okore to a knee injury in the first half. “You can’t concede goals like we did and expect to get something.”

Villa could have conceded more than one in the first half with Yohan Cabaye – back in the Newcastle side after going on strike for the first two games amid interest from Arsenal – flashed an angled effort wide of the far post just before the break.

For Villa too many passes were going astray but after Gabriel Agbonlahor had turned wide an inviting cross from Andreas Weimann, Christian Benteke climbed above everyone to head them level from Ashley Westwood’s corner midway through the second half. Yet Ben Arfa ensured parity did not last long. He had already cut infield and drawn one diving save from Guzan and when Villa’s defence let him repeat the trick, they paid a heavy price.

Aston Villa (4-5-1): Guzan; Lowton, Okore, Vlaar, Luna; Weimann (Tonev, 88), El Ahmadi (Kozak, 67), Delph, Westwood, Agbonlahor; Benteke.

Newcastle United (4-2-3-1): Krul; Debuchy, Yanga-Mbiwa, Coloccini, Santon; Sissoko, Anita (Tioté, 74); Ben Arfa, Cabaye (Ameobi, 88), Remy (Gouffran, 63); Cissé.

Referee: Mike Dean.

Man of the match: Ben Arfa (Newcastle)

Match rating: 6/10

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Customers look at the new iPhones on display at the launch of the new Apple iPhone 6 and iphone 6 plus at the Apple IFC store in Hong Kong
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Sport
Andros Townsend is challenged by Vladimir Volkov
football
Arts and Entertainment
Rapper Jay Z performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2008
musicSinger sued over use of the single-syllable sample in 'Run This Town'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week