Defeat against Blackburn on New Years Eve allowed rivals City to take advantage and move three points clear at the top making victory on Tyneside a necessity of they were to stay in touch. However they were brushed aside by a swashbuckling performance from Alan Pardew’s side who took the lead when Demba Ba hooked the ball past Anders Lindegaard just before half time. The Dane had not conceded in his five previous games but was picking the ball out of the net again following Yohan Cabaye’s stunning free kick just after the break before Phil Jones headed in an own goal to compound Sir Alex Ferguson’s misery. It was the first time Newcastle had beaten the Red Devil’s since 2001 when Sir Bobby Robson was in charge and there is no doubt he would have been proud of the current crop of players sporting black and white.
Just two wins in their last eight games had seen the home side drop out of the top four with local rivals Sunderland breathing down their necks after victories over Wigan and Manchester City. With Rio Ferdinand, Phil Jones and Wayne Rooney returned to the United side after missing the defeat against Rovers with the latter starved of service up front alongside Dimitar Berbatov. It was the Toon Army’s front two who impressed the most with Ba and Shola Ameobi causing havoc all night as the visitors struggled to cope with their physical presence. The former should have scored twice inside the opening quarter of an hour failing to make contact with Ryan Taylor’s low cross and shooting low at Lindegaard before Berbatov saw his head strike the foot of Tim Krul’s post. Newcastle continued to attack in numbers and broke the deadlock on 33 minutes with Ameobi flicking the ball onto Ba who held off Ferdinand to loop the ball first time into the net.
Two minutes after the break United found themselves two down with Cabaye scoring a contender for goal of the season striking a superb free kick over the wall and in off the cross bar from all of 30-yards. That seemed to wake the visitors up and they should have equalised with Nani putting in a series of dangerous crosses from the right but just couldn’t get the better of a stern Newcastle defence. The best chance fell to the Rooney who saw his shot from four-yards blocked by former Red Devil Danny Simpson who will have taken great pleasure in beating his former club. With the clock ticking down towards it’s conclusion the Magpies’ night got even better in stoppage time after Jones calamitously headed in Krul’s long punt upfield to make it 3-0 and provide a big boost to their European aspirations.