Newcastle 3-0 Stoke: Sunday Mirror match report
Published 21:30 21/04/12 By Brian McNally
Alan Pardew’s marvellous Magpies further underlined their European credentials with a sixth successive Premier League victory.
Not since the days of Alan Shearer back in 1996 have Newcastle put together such an impressive sequence and the run augurs well for their chances of sneaking into the Champions League places.
A double from Man of the Match Yohan Cabaye plus an 11th goal in 10 games from Papiss Cisse may convince the doubters Pardew’s side can make Europe’s premier competition rather than the Europa League.
Cisse is the first Premier League player this season to get on the scoresheet in six successive games.
It is also a feat Shearer never managed during his 10 seasons at Newcastle.
But the Toon’s success is not all about their array of attacking talent. Boss Alan Pardew praised a fourth clean sheet in a row and it is now 398 minutes since they conceded a goal.
Pardew believes that the Champions League is now a distinct possibility for his side.
He said: “We have now put ourselves in a fantastic position. The Champions League is a possibility. We are not going to hide from that.
“We now just have to win our four remaining games and see where that takes us.
“We are in great shape.To win six games in a row is truly outstanding.
“The Europa League would be a great achievement, but I can sense our fans are now looking at the Champions League.
“That would make it a really brilliant season.
“Yohan Cabaye was excellent in a team performance that oozed quality.
“His pass for Cisse’s second goal was one of the best this season and was probably better than his two goals. How he saw it I don’t know.”
Stoke boss Tony Pulis blamed his side’s poor finishing for the defeat.
“Jon Walters could have had a hat-trick. The difference was they took their chances and we didn’t,” he moaned.
After a slightly nervy start, Newcastle secured victory with a two goals in four-minute burst that knocked all the stuffing out of Stoke.
The first came on 14 minutes courtesy of a some dazzling footwork and control from Hatem Ben Arfa down the left.
French schemer Ben Arfa eluded Ryan Shotton before leaving Marc Wilson for dead and slinging over an inch-perfect cross for Cisse.
The Senegal striker’s header came back off the bar to leave Cabaye with the simplest of close-range headers to put the Magpies ahead.
Stoke were still licking
their wounds when Newcastle doubled their lead after 18 minutes with goal-scorer Cabaye turning provider.
The Frenchman produced a sublime, slide-rule pass to pick out Cisse’s perfectly-judged run.
The hotshot striker easily held off Robert Huth before placing a left-foot drive
beyond exposed visiting keeper Asmir Begovic.
It was a goal that underlined Cisse’s remarkable scoring record since his £10million move from German outfit Freiburg in January. He has now scored an incredible 11 goals in 10 games and it was a strike which effectively finished the match as a contest.
But Stoke will rue an early missed chance by the wasteful Walters.
A deft Peter Crouch header gave his fellow striker an inviting chance from just six yards out.
But the Republic of Ireland striker lifted it hopelessly high and wide.
There was no let-up from the Magpies in the second half with the outstanding Cabaye scoring a third after 57 minutes.
He steered in an opportunist strike from 20 yards after Demba Ba had been blocked on the edge of the box.