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Negative Stoke punished by Cisse
11:06am Monday 11th March 2013 in Sport
Final Score: Newcastle United 2 Stoke City 1
NEWCASTLE UNITED took full advantage – and full points – when Stoke City’s plan to frustrate their opponents backfired spectacularly.
Papiss Cisse fired a winning goal two minutes into injury time, which had largely been added because of Stoke’s timewasting.
Before then, it looked like ending in stalemate after Jon Walters’ 67th minute penalty was cancelled out by Yohan Cabaye’s sweet free-kick six minutes later.
The Potters had lined up to stifle their opponents, with Tony Pulis employing three defensive players in a fourman midfield.
Their front two of Cameron Jerome and Peter Crouch were starved of decent service and forced to drop deep, with Crouch even playing a bit-part as a left-back at one point.
Once the game had returned to parity following Cabaye’s stunning free-kick, Pulis orchestrated a period of obduracy and a complete indifference to winning the game.
Every substitution took longer than it should have done as the red-and-white clad men strolled off the pitch.
Every time goalkeeper Asmir Begovic had the ball in his hands, Pulis furiously told his number one to slow it down.
Conversely, the award of four minutes of injury time brought a cheer of encouragement from the Newcastle supporters, who were rewarded when Cisse sprung the offside trap to fire home and seal an impressive win following Thursday’s exertions in the Europa League.
One sub-plot barely worthy of mention was that of Michael Owen, who was an unused substitute and booed by his old fans upon his mention.
The hosts – shorn of Hatem Ben Arfa who had suffered a setback in his return from a hamstring injury – dominated a first half where it was unclear which team had played 72 hours earlier in Moscow, with Newcastle brighter and better in all departments.
Moussa Sissoko rifled a 25- yard shot over the crossbar moments after Stoke’s Ryan Shotton had volleyed a tame effort into Rob Elliot’s hands on 12 minutes.
Yoan Gouffran was proving to be a constant thorn in the Potters’ side, and saw an effort collected by Begovic on 16 minutes, while Cabaye’s 20- yard shot whistled just wide of the Bosnian’s goal, before Jonas Gutierrez turned Steven Nzonzi on the edge of the area, only to see his shot curl wide.
However, Stoke had a strong claim for a free-kick turned down on the half-hour when Davide Santon brought down Shotton on the edge of the box in a rare foray forward.
Referee Andre Marriner gave nothing, much to Pulis’ dismay, which was compounded when Santon almost finished off a move at the other end moments later.
But Newcastle should have been ahead three minutes before half-time when Gouffran fired over Cabaye’s lofted through-ball, which had taken a deflection off Nzonzi’s hand on the way through.
It was Newcastle’s turn to call foul just after the restart – again, in front of the Gallowgate End, when Cisse was brought down on the edge of the area by Begovic. Again, Marriner was not for turning and waved play on.
On 66 minutes, just after the game had been given a dash of extra spice following a spate of handbags between Cisse and Marc Wilson following a challenge on Walters by Cabaye, Marriner made the key decision to award a penalty to Walters, who was this time felled by Tiote.
The Irish international made no mistake to send Elliot the wrong way.
If Stoke had come for a ruck, they got one. On 70 minutes, Gouffran was felled by Begovic on the edge of the area, Sissoko similarly charged off the ball from the rebound.
Marriner gave the foul, Gouffran would play no further part and both coaching staffs spilt from their allotted areas to protest.
Cabaye restored order to the proceedings by dispatching the free-kick over the wall, and in off the underside of the crossbar.
Stoke tried their hardest to kill the game after that, with subsequent substitutions.
Former Sunderland players Kenwyne Jones and Dean Whitehead were introduced to loud boos from the Gallowgate.
They were brought on to play for time, a tactic that bit them on the backside when Cisse struck in injury time.
Despite erroneous calls for offside, Cisse sprung the trap from substitute Sylvain Marveaux’s ball over the top and fired home.
Newcastle deserved the points. They wanted to win, and they did so against a team who came merely to avoid defeat.