Ba makes most of home comforts with Toon treble

Newcastle United 3 Blackburn Rovers 1
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The Independent Online

And so the invincibles march on. The new Newcastle extended their unbeaten start to the season to six Premier League games, eight matches in all competitions, as Demba Ba found his goalscoring touch thrice over for Alan Pardew's high-flying Magpies in their home nest yesterday.

The black and whites are still conspicuously short of a No 9, their talismanic shirt having remained unfilled since Andy Carroll's departure to Liverpool, but their Senegalese No 19 is starting to make his presence felt on Tyneside. A free-transfer signing from West Ham in the summer, Ba struck twice in the first half and again after the break to secure a comfortable victory that keeps Newcastle in the dizzy heights of fourth place.

In doing so, he reacquainted Blackburn with defeat, seven days after their success against Arsenal. "You don't know what you're doing," the visiting supporters chanted at Steve Kean as Rovers, reduced to 10 men after the dismissal of the influential Martin Olsson 20 minutes from time, went down with a whimper.

For Ba, it was a three-goal feast that came after his annual fast. "Demba went through Ramadan when he came here, so he made a slowish start," Pardew said of the devout Muslim. "Those three goals in front of the Toon Army will have done him the power of good.

"I'm so pleased for him. He's a terrific lad. I've said to our strikers, 'Prove to me we don't need one.' And they've taken that challenge on. They're not the most glamorous of names but they've shown today what they can do."

Ba's striking partner, Leon Best, said in an interview in the match programme that he would like to be known as "Geordie Best". He could hardly have made a better job of the left-wing pass that teed up the opening goal in the 26th minute, Ba smacking a right-foot drive into the far corner. It was the former Hammer's first goal for Newcastle, and the second was not long in coming.

Four minutes later Blackburn's dithering defence failed to clear a header from Steven Taylor and Ba nodded past Paul Robinson from six yards. Not that it was all one-way traffic. Olsson's probing down the left and Junior Hoilett's scheming on the right edge of the penalty area had already posed problems before the pair combined to halve the deficit seven minutes before half-time, the Swede delivering the cross from which the Canadian beat Tim Krul with a rising right-foot shot.

Had it not been for a vital intervention from Ryan Taylor, Hoilett might have applied an equalising touch to another Olsson cross six minutes into the second half. Olsson almost did so himself three minutes later, stabbing a close-range effort up on to Krul's crossbar.

Still, the outcome was never in doubt after Ba rose to head a Cheik Tioté cross past Robinson in the 54th minute. Blackburn's resistance crumbled after Olsson was sent off for a second bookable offence. All of which left the Toon Army celebrating Newcastle's longest unbeaten start to a top-flight season since the 1994-95 campaign with Kevin Keegan the managerial inspiration.

Newcastle (4-4-2): Krul; R Taylor, Coloccini, S Taylor, Simpson; Obertan, Cabaye, Tioté, Gutierrez (Marveaux, 84); Ba (Ben Arfa, 74), Best.

Blackburn (4-3-2-1): Robinson; Salgado, Samba, Dann (Rochina, 64), Givet; N'Zonzi, Lowe, Olsson; Formica (Roberts, 64) Hoilett; Yakubu (Grella, 79).

Referee Martin Atkinson.

Man of the match Ba (Newcastle).

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