Monday 05 March 2012
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has praised the performance of winger Hatem Ben Arfa in the keenly contested Tyne-Wear derby against Sunderland on Sunday.
The 24-year-old came on at half-time and produced an eye-catching display as the Magpies came from behind to draw 1-1 at the Sports Direct Arena.
Ben Arfa has mainly been used off the bench this season but Pardew insists the former Marseille player is highly regarded by the club.
"This guy is exceptional. I don't want our fans to start thinking I don't think this is a good player," Pardew told the club's official website.
"He is special and we have got to get him on the pitch. I've got to find a way of getting him on the pitch to play like that, because that was his best 45 minutes.
"We've got 11 games to go and he can cause some real damage. He was the big difference between the sides in terms of the technical quality.
"We showed real courage and determination to turn that around"
- Alan Pardew
"You need a technical player who can unlock the door - he did it about four times and we were unlucky not to get a goal in those moments. It was a big game for him."
Pardew was also delighted with his side's character in a match that had Sunderland's Stephane Sessegnon sent off in the second half while Black Cats skipper Lee Cattermole was dismissed after the final whistle.
"We showed real courage and determination to turn that around," added Pardew. "The opposition came here to unsettle us. We didn't play any football.
"It was just a physical war and they were better than us at that. But in the second half we played our game and forgot about all that, and we absolutely bossed them and something was going to give.
"Once their guy was sent off it was just about were we going to get two goals, were we going to get time?
"We missed a penalty but still we didn't lie down. That could have been a body blow.
Cattermole has received a four-match ban after being shown a straight red card for foul and abusive language after the end of the contest.
The offence carries a two-match ban with another two added after the midfielder reached 10 bookings earlier in the fixture.
Sessegnon, meanwhile, has been banned for three matches after his dismissal for violent conduct.