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Newcastle held to a home draw
Newcastle United 1 Aston Villa 1
HATEM Ben Arfa came to Newcastle's rescue as they came from behind to salvage a point against Aston Villa.
Ben Arfa's sensational second-half strike cancelled out Ciaran Clark's first-half header for a Villa side that started the day at the foot of the Premier League table.
The Magpies were well off the pace for the majority of the game, but claimed a draw to make it four points from their opening three league matches.
Newcastle started slowly and were punished when Aston Villa claimed a deserved lead in the 22nd minute.
Tim Krul had already been forced to produce two decent saves to deny the visitors, parrying Darren Bent 's close-range shot before saving another effort from the former Sunderland striker.
However, the Newcastle goalkeeper was unable to prevent Clark breaking the deadlock shortly after.
Barry Bannan was given far too much space on the left-hand side, and Clark ghosted between Steven Taylor and Fabricio Coloccini to head home the midfielder's cross from the edge of the six-yard box.
Newcastle had barely threatened at that stage, but Brad Guzan, playing instead of the dropped Shay Given, was finally forced into action on the half-hour mark, saving Papiss Cisse's first-time shot from Demba Ba's cross with his legs. Villa failed to clear the resultant corner, but Vurnon Anita could only drag his shot from the edge of the area wide.
Anita started in central midfield, but the summer signing from Ajax was forced to slot in at right back after Danny Simpson hobbled off with a hamstring injury in the 38th minute.
Ba dragged a shot across the face of goal shortly after, but Villa came close to doubling their lead at the end of the first half as Andreas Weimann lobbed wide of the target after Bent's flick on threatened to unlock the Newcastle back four.
Stephen Ireland forced Krul into a routine save at the start of the second half, but Newcastle levelled in the 59th minute as Ben Arfa added to his collection of classic St James' Park strikes.
There appeared little on when the Frenchman picked up the ball 25 yards, but he calmly stepped inside Brett Holman and unleashed an exceptional right-footed strike that rocketed into the top right-hand corner.
Newcastle spent the rest of the game pushing for a winner, but Ba could only head Gael Bigirimana's chipped cross onto the roof of the net with 16 minutes left.
The hosts then received a let off in the 80th minute as Stephen Ireland, who had an unsuccessful loan spell on Tyneside two seasons ago, failed to find the target from a decent position 14 yards out.
NEWCASTLE (4-4-2): Krul; Simpson (Bigirimana 38), S Taylor, Coloccini, Santon; Ben Arfa, Anita, Cabaye, Gutierrez (Marveaux 86); Cisse, Ba (Obertan 86).
Subs (not used): Harper (gk), Williamson, Gosling, Amalfitano.
ASTON VILLA (4-4-2): Guzan; Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Lichaj; Holman, El Ahmadi (N'Zogbia 73), Ireland, Bannan; Weimann (Agbonlahor 64), Bent.
Subs (not used): Given (gk), Baker, Burke, Williams, Bowery.
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