Football: Newcastle United managed to rid themselves the tag of being the only top-flight side without an away win this season by beating a relegation-threatened Aston Villa 2-1.
Alan Pardew’s side went into the game without a victory in 17 matches in all competitions on the road.
But first-half goals from Papiss Cisse, his seventh of the campaign, and a stunning strike from Yohan Cabaye gave the visitors a deserved lead at the break.
Christian Benteke halved Villa’s deficit from the spot early in the second-half but the hosts failed to find an equaliser, leaving them winless in their last seven league games.
Paul Lambert’s side now find themselves in the bottom three as a result of Wigan’s 2-2 draw away at Stoke.
After the game the Villa boss rued his sides first-half performance.
He said: “We just never really got going in the first-half at all, never got going. The second half — that was how you play football.
“First goal was really disappointing. Second goal — sometimes you can’t stop them. It was a terrific strike.”
He added: “It was night and day compared to the first half. We got a standing ovation from our fans at the end even though we had lost at home. It was an incredible thing — I'm not sure I've ever seen that before.
"We never let Newcastle settle and we didn't let them get out of their half but the effort and the way they played in the second half, I thought deserved something.”
The Magpies went into the game having not won at Villa Park in their last five attempts since a 2-1 Premier League victory in February 2006.
But they were by far the better side in the opening exchanges and took the lead after a sublime pass from the impressive debutant Moussa Sissoko found Cisse, with the striker slotting the ball calmly past Brad
Boss Alan Pardew was quick to praise the performance of Sissoko who recently signed from Toulouse on a six-and-a-half-year deal.
He said: "I don't think we would have won that game if we hadn't signed Sissoko. That is how important that signing was."
It was rumoured that Sissoko had waived any signing on fee from his new club in order to push the deal through after his former club were unwilling to let him leave until his contract had expired in the summer.
Pardew added: "He did really well to get that deal over the line in time.
“I thought he was magnificent and will be a superb player for us. We were superb in the first half, as good as we have been all year, and he played a big part in that.
"I envisage him playing in a role where he can use his energy and power. I don't want to compare him to anybody but he can play all three roles in that midfield."
The Villains could have levelled things up within seconds of the away side taking the lead when a thunderous 25-yard shot from the former Newcastle man Charles N’Zogbia rattled the post.
But as has been the story of Villa's season so far, it was poor defending that led to Newcastle doubling their lead just after the half-hour mark.
Jonas Gutierrez was allowed too much time to cross the ball into the area from the right channel and after Ron Vlaar only partially cleared the danger, the ball dropped to Cabaye and the Frenchman unleashed a
25-yarder into the top corner of Guzan’s goal.
Lambert opted for a double substitution at half-time with Andreas Weimann replacing the largely ineffectual Darren Bent and Gabriel Agbonlahor replacing Joe Bennett.
And both subs were immediately in the thick of the action, with a stinging effort from Weimaan which was parried by Tim Krul before Agbonlahor was clattered into by Mathieu Debuchy to win the penalty.
Leading scorer Benteke stepped up to take the resulting penalty, rolling the ball past Krul for his eighth league goal of the season.
But although they were the better side for large periods of the second-half Villa couldn’t find the all-important equaliser.
They now have 20 points from 24 games this season — their lowest tally at this stage of a top-flight season since 1995-56, when they had the equivalent of the same total and finished one place above the
"You have to survive in the league but the second half showing gives up hope. Sometimes you need help so we'll see what happens,” concluded Lambert.
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