Newcastle eye European slot after win over West Brom
West Brom 1 Newcastle 3
Sunday 25 March 2012
Newcastle stepped up their claims for a European spot after an inspired first-half display from Hatem Ben Arfa helped seal victory over West Brom at the Hawthorns.
Ben Arfa scored once himself and set up two more goals for Papiss Cisse during an opening 45 minutes dominated by Alan Pardew's side.
Albion could only manage a solitary second-half reply from substitute Shane Long as Newcastle moved level on points with fifth-placed Chelsea and gained revenge for the 3-2 home defeat to Albion earlier in the season.
The Magpies have also opened up an eight-point gap over seventh-placed Liverpool, but suffered a worrying moment 10 minutes from time when Cisse was carried off on a stretcher with an apparent leg injury.
Newcastle dominated the first half and gave the home side a lesson in expert counter-attacking and clinical finishing.
Ben Arfa caused constant problems with his runs and probing passes, while Cisse has now netted five times in six games for his new club.
Albion seldom fired on all cylinders and looked like a side already virtually assured of Premier League survival.
They improved after the break but have collected just one point from their last three games.
Newcastle were soon into their stride and Demba Ba forced Baggies goalkeeper Ben Foster to turn his downward volley over the bar before Cisse put them ahead after six minutes.
Ben Arfa supplied the telling low ball across the six-yard box and Cisse was left with a simple task to sidefoot home.
Newcastle were seeing plenty of the ball and Ben Arfa doubled their lead after 12 minutes in a lightning counter-attack.
Cisse supplied the telling pass but Ben Arfa still had plenty of work to do as he cut in from the left and beat the dive of Foster with a fierce drive into the far corner.
Albion tried to retaliate and James Morrison drilled a half volley wide after being teed up by Keith Andrews.
Marc-Antoine Fortune threatened for the first time when he met a cross from Liam Ridgewell but his header was a couple of yards wide of the mark.
Peter Odemwingie had the ball in the net after 32 minutes but Fortune had strayed marginally offside.
Then two minutes later Cisse struck again after another swift counter-attack by the visitors.
Demba Ba backheeled the ball into the path of the overlapping Ben Arfa and his cross picked out Cisse, who made no mistake with a left-footed finish.
Albion needed to strike quickly to have any hope of rescuing the game and Morrison sliced his shot wide when well placed after Youssouf Mulumbu had created the opening.
Michael Williamson then deflected a fierce drive from Mulumbu over his own crossbar before Cisse was denied his hat-trick by the alert Foster after Yohan Cabaye's deflected pass had sent him clear of the Baggies
After 52 minutes a mix-up between Williamson and goalkeeper Tim Krul allowed Long to nip in and turn the ball into an empty net.
Foster then produced an excellent save to turn aside a low shot from Ben Arfa after a powerful run before Williamson became the first player to be booked after an aerial challenge on Long.
Albion were looking more dangerous and Ridgewell sliced a shot wide when well placed.
The home side, having already used their three substitutes, ended the game with 10 men when Morrison hobbled off after a challenge with Demba Ba with 10 minutes remaining.
Presents unwrapped, turkey gobbled... it's time to relax
Latest in Sport
Phillip Hughes: #putoutyourbats tribute sees Twitter users pay their respects to Hughes including Graeme Swann and David Warner
Phil Hughes dead: List of players who have tragically died on the cricket pitch
Nani transfer: No future for winger at Sporting Lisbon as club cannot afford his wages when loan deal with Manchester United runs out
This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
Phillip Hughes death: UK company Masuri say Australian opener was wearing 'outdated helmet'
- 1 Jennifer Lawrence scores first UK top 40 single with Hunger Games track 'The Hanging Tree'
- 2 Shia LaBeouf claims he was raped during #IAMSORRY art installation performance
- 4 Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
Obama: The only people with the right to object to immigration are Native Americans
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Ukip mocked after mistaking Westminster Cathedral – for a mosque
Plebgate: Andrew Mitchell’s reputation in tatters as judge rules he used the word ‘pleb’