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Loic Remy's stoppage-time goal ended Newcastle United's barren run at St James' Park in the Barclays Premier League as they beat Aston Villa 1-0.
Alan Pardew's side had gone more than seven hours without a goal in the Barclays Premier League, but the France striker struck in the 92nd minute to lift the mood on Tyneside. Remy had been Newcastle's biggest threat in the match, forcing Brad Guzan into several saves and hitting a post in the closing stages, before he had the final say.
Pardew had urged his players to prove Paul Lambert wrong after the Villa manager had suggested that Newcastle were there for the taking on the back of a run where they had taken just four points from the previous 24 available. However, although Tim Krul was made to earn his clean sheet, Villa were ultimately undone.
Newcastle recalled Remy, Fabricio Coloccini and Cheick Tiote as they sought to avoid a defeat that would have consigned them to their worst home run since 1953, while Villa brought in fit-again forward Andreas Weimann and midfielder Karim El Ahmadi.
Pardew's message looked to have resonated with the team in the opening five minutes as the hosts fashioned a couple of decent chances. First Remy struck a low drive straight at Guzan, before Cisse forced the American goalkeeper to parry a dipping curled shot from the edge of the box five minutes later.
The visitors gave the home crowd a scare four minutes later when Agbonlahor fired narrowly over from distance, before Bacuna stung the hands of Krul with a well-hit free-kick.
Remy, who returned for the hosts after suspension, nearly found some luck with a set-piece several minutes before the break, curling just wide of Guzan's left post. Cisse had not found the net at home since the Boxing Day win over Stoke City, but was handed a golden opportunity just before the break, courtesy of some great work from Remy. The Frenchman dashed towards the byline before squaring to Cisse, who fired over from six yards.
Substitute Yoan Gouffran wasted another decent opportunity by dragging a shot wide just after the break, before full-back Paul Dummett sent a shot just over the bar from outside the area around 10 minutes later.
Newcastle threw on Luuk de Jong for the last 20 minutes, but it was Remy who looked the most likely source of a goal, bursting through the defence before forcing a great save from Guzan.
The hosts had a penalty shout denied late on when the ball appeared to strike Bacuna's arm, with referee Martin Atkinson waving away appeals as Newcastle grew frustrated. De Jong nearly helped break the deadlock two minutes from time, squaring to Remy inside the six-yard box, only for the Frenchman to rattle an effort off a post.
Remy made amends with a minute to play, lashing home from inside the area to hand the hosts a vital win and move them into eighth in the table.
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew: "It was a very, very important goal because, although we have 40 points and are only five off Everton, who are meant to be having the season of seasons, in the scheme of the last few games it was an important win.
"The one class player on the pitch was Loic and, although we worked with diligence and showed what we have done in training, it was a bit of quality that won it.
"They had a great 20 minutes, and I am sure Paul [Lambert] will be disappointed that they didn't score between 20 and 40 minutes, but in the second half we were better."
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert: “We deserved at least a point, especially after the first-half showing. We were excellent in that first half. Second half Newcastle came out stronger but I don't think either team deserved to win the game, but we made an error with 30 seconds to go."
"He [Westwood] had a dead leg, which was a pity because he was by far the best player on the pitch. He was fantastic with the way he played and to lose him was a blow. We also lost Ryan [Bertrand]. He had a virus [on Saturday night] so we got the best out of him for 75 minutes, so the two of them coming off were big for us."
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