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Papiss Cisse dragged Newcastle United nine points clear of the Barclays Premier League relegation zone with a dramatic injury-time winner to see off Stoke City.
The Senegal forward struck two minutes into stoppage time to complete a comeback after Stoke had threatened to snatch victory at St James' Park. Jonathan Walters had given the visitors the lead against the run of play from the penalty spot with 67 minutes gone, but Yohan Cabaye's free-kick six minutes later set the stage for Cisse's last-gasp winner.
Stoke started with a series of long balls into the Newcastle penalty area and asked Peter Crouch, Walters and Cameron Jerome, reinforced by Ryan Shawcross, Geoff Cameron and Ryan Shotton for set-pieces, to compete for them. However, with Steven Taylor and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa up for the fight and goalkeeper Rob Elliot accepting the responsibility to deal with his share of the aerial assault, Newcastle were largely untroubled during the opening 45 minutes.
Elliot had to field a third-minute volley by Crouch, after he had been allowed to control Shawcross's long ball on his chest 25 yards out, and then pluck Shotton's effort from underneath his crossbar nine minutes later. But as the visitors' early assault abated, Alan Pardew's men started to force their way into the game.
Initially, they failed to make the most of their possession as Cabaye floated a series of balls into the penalty area which were tailor-made for goalkeeper Asmir Begovic and his defenders. But as the half wore on, they adopted a more intelligent approach with Cabaye prompting, Moussa Sissoko driving at the heart of the Stoke rearguard and full-backs Mathieu Debuchy and Davide Santon getting forward well.
Cabaye sent a 16th-minute shot from distance across Begovic and just past the far post, and Jonas Gutierrez curled another effort similarly wide five minutes later. Santon tested Begovic with a well-struck 33rd-minute drive after cutting inside Shotton, but the home side could have been in front four minutes later. Cabaye's through-ball took a deflection and evaded Sissoko but it fell nicely for Yoan Gouffran, only for the Frenchman to lift his shot over the bar.
Cabaye saw a 42nd-minute strike deflected just wide with Begovic wrong-footed, but the black and white shirts had to close ranks seconds later as Glenn Whelan forced his way into the penalty area on a rare foray into enemy territory but could not find a finish. Gutierrez saw a 56th-minute drive blocked out for a corner by Whelan, but Newcastle were struggling to penetrate a stubborn Stoke defence.
Their task grew in size with 23 minutes remaining when, after Cheick Tiote had felled Walters with a challenge inside the box, referee Andre Marriner pointed to the spot and Walters obliged to give the visitors the lead.
The lead lasted only six minutes as the game became increasingly lively both on and off the pitch. Sissoko was tripped by Whelan literally inches outside the box. Cabaye curled the free-kick over the wall and in off the underside of the crossbar to level.
There was even better to come for the home fans deep into injury time when substitute Sylvain Marveaux picked out Cisse in front of goal and he controlled and fired past the stranded Begovic to snatch victory.
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew: "It was a very important win, because it jumps us right up the Premier League and gives us a chance to attack the top ten. But we were fortunate in some ways, Stoke came here and were excellent today and that was as good a defensive display as you will see.
"They stopped us playing and made it very difficult and we kept plugging away, asking different questions and in the end it was a pass through the eye of the needle from [Sylvain] Marveaux that got us the goal. The team has done well in [Marveaux’s] absence and he is knocking on the door and he sparked us in that last little bit and it was massive.”
Stoke manager Tony Pulis: "We are really disappointed and we shot ourselves in the foot, the first goal we gave them - it is a dreadful mistake from Glenn [Whelan] and he has held his hand up and they have scored a free-kick from that.
"Newcastle had some good play in front of us and to the side, but aside from the goals I don't think Asmir [Begovic] has had a save to make. I am very disappointed for the lads because they have put such an effort in today and away from home this year we have played better than any time in the Premier League. But we have just not had the results and we have shot ourselves in the foot, it is not Newcastle it is our bad defending or mistakes that have cost us the result.
"We should be a lot more points better off, no question of a doubt and that is disappointing but we have got good spirit, good characters in the group and hopefully we can bounce back."
|14 Apr 2013||v Sunderland (H)|
|19 May 2013||v Arsenal (H)|
|27 Apr 2013||v Liverpool (H)|
|30 Mar 2013||v Man City (A)|
|20 Apr 2013||v West Brom (A)|
|17 Mar 2013||v Wigan (A)|