West Brom 1-3 Newcastle: Daily Mirror match report
Published 21:39 25/03/12 By Neil McLeman
Another Sunday Special from the Toon but a black sabbath for the Baggies.
Alan Pardew’s side took their unbeaten run on the Lord’s Day to eight this season with a heavenly performance at the Hawthorns to move level on points with Chelsea in fifth place.
Three up after 33 minutes, Newcastle threatened to run amok before Roy Hodgson’s side rallied after the break.
But during a devastating opening, the home side had no answer to the direct running of the brilliant Hatem Ben Arfa and the deadly Papiss Cisse. The Senegal striker scored two – both set up by the Frenchman – to take his tally to five in his first five Premier League matches.
Yet it was the former Marseille midfielder, aided by Yohan Cabaye, who ran the show until he was subbed after 75 minutes.
The £2million signing, who missed most of his first season in English football with a broken leg, certainly went about it the right way in a Newcastle team which had lost five of their last six games on the road.
By contrast, West Brom had kept clean sheets in their last two homes games to pull clear of the relegation zone. Finishing the match with 10 men – after James Morrison was injured after Hodgson had used all his substitutes – summed up the Baggies’ day.
Newcastle, who were again without the influential Cheik Tiote, have now won five and drawn two on Sunday this season. And this was their first win among them away from St James’ Park.
Pardew’s side could qualify for the Europa League this season by finishing seventh if results in the FA Cup go their way. But fifth is now a real possibility with a visit to Chelsea to come on April 14. Manchester City must also visit St James’ Park on May 6 in another potential twist to the title saga.
The other subplot to the match was the meeting of two of the four English managers in the Premier League. Roy Hodgson, who has coached three international sides, should get the England job this summer if Harry Redknapp decides to stay at Tottenham.
But after unsuccessful spells at Charlton and Southampton, Pardew is now re-establishing the reputation for flowing football he enjoyed while taking West Ham to the 2006 FA Cup final. The biggest threat to this exciting squad is the interest of bigger and richer clubs in their best players this summer.
Newcastle needed only six minutes to darken the local mood with a goal of cutting simplicity. Jonas Gutierrez fed Ben Arfa down the inside-left channel and his low cross was tapped home by Cisse.
The Senegal striker returned the compliment after 12 minutes in a stunning Toon counterattack. Ben Arfa picked up a clearance outside his own box, exchanged pass with Cabaye and then with Cisse before cutting back inside and firing home with his left foot. Five of his six goals this season have come away Demba Ba, who has now not scored in six games, then tried to get in on the act. But after feeding Ben Arfa, he was bundled over in the box by Andrews but Cisse was clear to sweep home his second from the penalty spot.
Hodgson threw on Shaun Long and Chris Brunt at half-time but the first incident of the second half came after 50 minutes as Ben Foster denied Cisse his hat-trick when he was sent clear by Ben Arfa and Cabaye again led the breakout but Foster denied Cisse his hat-trick when the Senegal striker was through one-on-one. Two minutes later, West Brom were gifted a goal back. Under pressure from Odemwingie, Mike Williamson could only divert a long ball out of Tim Krul’s grasp and Long was free to ram the loose ball home.
The Baggies, who had been unable to retain any possession in the first half, finally added urgency to their play but only a fine low stop by Foster after 57 minutes denied Ben Arfa a brilliant individual goal after he dribbled his way through the home defence.
The game petered out with injuries to Cisse and Morrison, leaving West Brom a man short for the final eight minutes and seven minutes of injury time. It was all best forgotten for the Baggies. Next up for Newcastle? Liverpool on Sunday.