ALAN Pardew’s prayers were answered at St James’ Park as Demba Ba’s brace helped to arrest a damaging four-match losing run.
Ba swept home a penalty on 12 minutes after Papiss Cisse had been barged in the box by Maynor Figueroa, and United’s cause was undoubtedly aided by referee Mike Jones’ contentious decision to send the Honduran off for the offence.
Against 10 men and with an early lead, the real Newcastle was able to emerge and confidence and poise began to return to United’s play. A second followed soon after when Ba gobbled up a rebound after Davide Santon’s long-range effort was parried away by Ali Al-Habsi - while Gael Bigirimana scored a wonderful first senior goal to cap a fine night for Newcastle.
Pardew will have been delighted with the way his team responded to the pressure of four defeats and can now look forward to the midweek engagement with Bordeaux with renewed optimism, even though Ba and Santon both hobbled off in the second half.
Both will be assessed over the next few days but, for all Newcastle’s concern, the three points were all important to United’s season – as goalkeeper Tim Krul conceded afterwards.
“It’s a massive win for us. We knew we needed three points,” he said. “The pressure was on us, but we took the invention we had at Stoke and took it on really well.
“It’s been hard with injuries and losing games, it’s a new experience for us but I think we’re coping well. We need to stick together and show what a quality team we are.”
Bigirimana’s first senior goal was a thing of beauty, and the young midfielder said that he hoped to continue repaying Pardew’s faith with more goals and performances of quality. The teenager has endured some tougher moments after bursting onto the black and white scene but relished his moment after a wonderful second-half strike.
“I was just speechless,” he said.
“When I scored I was thinking ‘Wow, I have scored in the Premier League. It’s my first ever as a professional’.”