Cisse sinks Villa in dream debut
Papiss Demba Cisse marked his Newcastle debut in spectacular fashion as the Senegal striker's ferocious finish clinched a 2-1 win over Aston Villa on Sunday.
Cisse has been handed Newcastle's iconic number nine shirt following his £10 million transfer from German club Freiburg and, while it is too soon to compare him to Magpies legends like Alan Shearer and Malcolm Macdonald, this was the perfect way to launch his career at St James' Park.
After missing several matches following his transfer due to international commitments with Senegal at the African Nations Cup, Cisse finally made his debut as he came off the bench in the first half following an injury to Leon Best.
The burly forward saw his compatriot Demba Ba mark his own return from the African Nations Cup by firing Newcastle ahead in the first half before Robbie Keane equalised for Villa.
Cisse took centre-stage after that and his winner with 19 minutes remaming moved Newcastle above Arsenal into fifth place and level on points with fourth-placed Chelsea, who face Manchester United later on Sunday.
Alan Pardew's side have won four of their last five league games and a challenge for the Champions League places can't be ruled out if Ba and Cisse can continue to provide such a lethal cutting edge.
Newcastle goalkeepeer Tim Krul came to his side's rescue twice in quick succession early on when Darren Bent beat the offside trap and shot from a tight angle, and then Stiliyan Petrov followed up from distance.
Cisse was cheered onto the pitch after Best's injury and he was quickly into the action as his glancing header tested Shay Given.
Bent found himself in on goal once again seconds later, this time from Richard Dunne's pass, only for Krul to make a fine stop.
Newcastle took advantage of that escape to snatch the lead with a typically predatory finish from Ba in the 30th minute.
Danny Guthrie's cross was headed down to Ryan Taylor, who smashed a shot across the face of goal under pressure from Stephen Warnock, and the ball fell perfectly for Ba to blast home his 16th goal of the season.
However, Taylor was injured in the challenge with Warnock and had to be stretchered off with his right leg in a brace.
That seemed to unsettle Newcastle's defence and Villa, growing in confidence despite Ba's goal, equalised five minutes into the stoppage time added on for Taylor's injury when N'Zogbia crossed back into the six-yard box for Keane to volley home in emphatic fashion.
Newcastle nearly made the perfect start to the second half when Given and his defenders failed to deal with Guthrie's cross, but although the ball fell towards both Ba and Cisse neither could capitalise.
Gabriel Obertan broke free once again three minutes later and ran at Dunne, but the winger sliced his right-footed effort well wide.
When Cisse headed over from Guthrie's cross it looked like Newcastle's luck might be out, but the new boy triggered wild celebrations in the 71st minute when he controlled a Jonas Gutierrez on his chest before lashing a left-foot volley high into the top corner.
Krul made a fine reaction save to deny Ciaran Clark a late equaliser and the Dutchman had to be even more alert to keep out substitute Gary Gardner's header with just two minutes left.
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