Brilliance of Ben Arfa beats Baggies

West Bromwich Albion 1 Newcastle United 3

The Hawthorns

Back at the scene of the defeat by West Bromwich Albion which astonishingly cost Chris Hughton the manager's job 16 months ago, Newcastle yesterday joined Chelsea on 50 points and moved to within five points of the fourth Champions League place with a victory that was made in Africa.

At the heart of all the best moments for Alan Pardew's team was the exotic talent of Hatem Ben Arfa, a France international of Tunisian descent. Weaving past several opponents at a time, in his orange shirt the midfielder looked for all the world like a Blackpool player from the Matthews era, creating two goals and scoring the second himself.

Ben Arfa, who was out with a broken leg when a 3-1 loss led to Hughton's dismissal, found strong support from Papiss Cisse, the Senegal striker scoring twice to take his tally for Newcastle to five goals in six matches. For once the leading scorer, the French-Senegalese attacker Demba Ba, was cast in a minor role, if only by comparison with his outstanding colleagues.

Pardew, the beneficiary of the boardroom panic that led to his predecessor's demise, hailed Ben Arfa's display as his best in a Newcastle shirt. "Some of his runs were mesmerising," purred the Newcastle manager. "If I was the France coach, I'd consider him. There's not many who can do what he can, and he'd be a nice wild card to have in the squad [at Euro 2012]."

 

Talking about Newcastle's prospects of at least a Europa League spot, Pardew added: "To have the same points as Chelsea is phenomenal. We have eight games left, starting with Liverpool next Sunday. It's a massive game and the whole city will look forward to it."

The Albion coach, Roy Hodgson, admitted Newcastle were superior. "The only solace I can take," he continued, "is that we did win the second half and reduced the damage." Untypically for Albion during their various sojourns in the Premier League, the spectre of relegation was effectively banished before winter turned to spring. There was a relaxed, almost festive atmosphere inside the ground. Hodgson's men, though, took the "relaxed" bit too literally during the initial sparring, and were 2-0 down before breaking sweat.

In the sixth minute their attempts to play Newcastle offside were exposed by the timing of Ben Arfa's run on the left as Jonas Gutierrez fed the ball through. A low cross was turned in by Cissé, Albion's defence again looking in vain for a flag to rescue them.

The roles were reversed in the 12th minute after a sweeping move which Ben Arfa launched on the edge of his own penalty area. After finding Cissé in the centre circle, he darted to the right flank for the return pass. Albion stood off him, with only Jonas Olsson making anything resembling a challenge. Ben Arfa punished their largesse by driving the ball past Ben Foster.

This was a return to the slapdash defending that was commonplace during Roberto Di Matteo's reign at Albion, and which Hodgson, after successive home wins with clean sheets, looked to have rectified. Newcastle's third goal arrived 11 minutes before half-time, and again Ben Arfa's perpetual motion turned Albion inside out. Having supplied Ba, he ran on to a return back-heeled pass before cutting the ball back for Cissé to fire home.

Albion doubtless drew on the memory of St James' Park last season, when they came from 3-0 behind to draw. Playing at a higher tempo they soon pulled a goal back after Newcastle proved the hosts had no monopoly on feeble defending.

Mike Williamson had the opportunity to head Youssouf Mulumbu's punt back to Tim Krul. Pressured by Peter Odemwingie, the centre-back waited until the goalkeeper was almost on top of him before putting his forehead on the ball. He succeeded only in glancing it into the path of Shane Long, who gleefully accepted the gift of his seventh goal of the season.

Any hopes Albion harboured of further reducing the deficit went down the tunnel with James Morrison, who was carried off with a knee injury.

Match details

WBA: FOSTER 7/10, JONES 5, McAULEY 5, OLSSON 6, RIDGEWELL 5, ANDREWS 6, MULUMBU 7, MORRISON 6, THOMAS 4, ODEMWINGIE 6, FORTUNE 5

Newcastle: KRUL 6, PERCH 5, COLOCCINI 7, WILLIAMSON 5, SIMPSON 6, BA 6, GUTIERREZ 7, CABAYE 7, GUTHRIE 6, BENARFA 8, CISSE 7

Substitutes: West Bromwich Albion Long 7 (Andrews, h-t), Brunt 5 (Thomas, h-t), Scharner (Mulumbu, 73). Newcastle United Santon 6 (Coloccini, h-t), Shola Ameobi (Ben Arfa, 75), Ferguson (Cissé, 79).

Booked: Newcastle Williamson.

Man of the match Ben Arfa. Match rating 8/10.

Possession: WBA 42% Newcastle 58%.

Attempts on target: WBA 6 Newcastle 7.

Referee C Foy (Merseyside). Attendance 25,049.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
The veteran poverty campaigner Sir Bob Geldof issues a stark challenge to emerging economies at the Melbourne HIV/Aids conference
health
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich talk Penguins of Madagascar at Comic-Con
comic-con 2014Cumberbatch fans banned from asking about Sherlock at Comic-Con
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
filmGuardians Of The Galaxy should have taken itself a bit more seriously, writes Geoffrey Macnab
News
Sir Chris Hoy won six Olympic golds - in which four events?
news
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
News
Lars Ulrich of Metallica performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
people
Arts and Entertainment
film
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Extras
indybest
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

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform