Newcastle took another step closer to Europe today with a 1-0 win over Norwich. It wasn’t the prettiest of victories, but a wins a win and it puts us 5 points clear of Liverpool meaning they cannot overtake us even if they win their game in hand.
The game started brightly for Newcastle when Papiss Cisse beat they offside trap after 2 minutes and was in acres of space, unfortunately his lobbed attempt wasn’t good enough to beat the brilliant Ruddy.
Newcastle were in the ascendancy and it didn’t take us long to open the deadlock when Papiss Cisse converted a great cross by Jonas Gutierrez. They Senegalese centre forward buried a difficult chance right into the top corner of Ruddy’s net and it looked like we would build from there.
Norwich nearly struck back on 19 minutes when Mike Williamson was caught with the ball at his feet thinking he was Lionel Messi on the edge of our box, and a ball was played to Jonny Howson who fired over from 20 yards, one of few chances for Norwich in the first half.
The Norwich goalkeeper made another excellent save when a Yohan Cabaye cross was met with a glancing flick from Demba Ba. Ruddy re-adjusted late and managed to tip the ball just wide of the post when it was destined for the net.
Just before half time Newcastle had another chance and one which would have knocked the stuffing out of Norwich. Jonas Gutierrez fed a brilliant through ball in behind the Norwich defence and Cisse ran on to it, but Ruddy managed to save his dinked effort. That was a huge chance for Cisse and one he should have buried.
The second half begun in much the same vain and the first ended, Hatem Ben Arfa glided his way into the area but sent his right footed effort wide of the post, something he should have done much better with.
Just before the hour mark Tim Krul made a brilliant save to deny Zak Whitbread when the defender looked set to level the scores. Whitbread got in between James Perch and Mike Williamson, and bulleted a header towards Krul’s goal, but the Dutchman managed to get a hand to it and tip it over the bar.
It just wasn’t Demba Ba’s day and around the 70 minute mark the big man had two opportunities to get a strike on Ruddy’s goal inside the penalty area but couldn’t get the ball out of his feet.
By this time Alan Pardew has made tactical substitutions with Davide Santon replacing Hatem Ben Arfa and Shola Ameobi replacing the goalscorer Papiss Cisse.
Norwich were starting to get a hold of the game, but when Ameobi came on we kept the ball better and he used his strength very well to get us into their half.
Norwich huffed and puffed but had no real stand out chances. Andrew Surman had a half chance when he tried an overhead kick in the dying minutes, and Steve Morison was through on goal in injury time when the United defence stepped out far too much from Krul’s goalkick and the ball came straight back. The Welsh forward scuffed his effort and Tim Krul saved it easily.
It wasn’t the best game I’ve watched us play, we weren’t very good to be honest, but it’s another win which keeps us ticking over in the race for Europe.
There were some good performances in the team with James Perch and Jonas Gutierrez being our stand out player in my opinion. Perch won everything and battled very well in midfield, which is why I’d have him man of the match just in front of Jonas who played well at left back and created the goal.
Yohan Cabaye seemed a little bit better today and he worked hard, creating 4 chances in the game. By no means was he back to his best, but a little more influential. Danny Guthrie came in and did a job in place of the injured Cheik Tiote again which was good to see.
A small worry though was that Tim Krul pulled up with what seemed a hamstring tweek in the second half, hopefully we hear nothing more about that. Mike Williamson also worried me throughout with his general clumsiness and lack of composure on the ball, but he did win a few key headers.
Danny Guthrie also took a knock and went off holding his calf, and was replaced by the non-existant Dan Gosling.
The goal scorer Cisse took his goal expertly, but the other chances he missed worried me, his runs were excellent and Pardew rightly took him off when he tired. His build up play wasn’t great, but he’s still learning and when he’s fully firing him and Demba Ba will be a lethal combination.
Not really that much to say really, we weren’t great, we weren’t awful, we were average and we won, that’s the important thing, right?
On to the next one!