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Premier League

  • 18 March 2012
  • • 16:00
  • • St. James' Park, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
  • Referee: P. Dowd
  • • Attendance: 47833
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Newcastle 1-0 Norwich City: Early Cisse strike enough as hosts move five points clear of Liverpool in race for sixth

Newcastle 1-0 Norwich City: Early Cisse strike enough as hosts move five points clear of Liverpool in race for sixth

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The Senegalese striker's solitary goal in the first half was enough to boost the Magpies' Europa League hopes during Alan Pardew's 500th career league game as manager

Newcastle United got their Europa League bid back on track with their first victory in four games against Norwich City at the Sports Direct Arena.

The Magpies moved within two points of Chelsea in fifth place thanks to Papiss Cisse’s solitary strike, during Alan Pardew’s 500th career league game as manager.

The scoreline could easily have been different as Canaries keeper John Ruddy kept his side in the game with a string of impressive saves, but Paul Lambert’s men failed to conjure a comeback to extend their winless run to four games.

Pardew was able to recall Cisse back into the side alongside top scorer Demba Ba, whilst midfield lynchpin Cheikh Tiote missed out through injury.

Norwich top scorer Grant Holt was relegated to the bench in place of Steve Morison, whilst Jonny Howson returned after missing out through illness last weekend.

The home side started brighter, and Cisse wasted a golden opportunity to open the scoring inside two minutes after springing the offside trap, but his weak lob failed to beat Ruddy.

The Senegalese forward made amends for the miss on the 10-minute mark though, when he was on hand to expertly guide Jonas Gutierrez’s cross into the top left-hand corner.

Norwich, who were struggling to provide any attacking threat, were gifted an opportunity soon later when Mike Williamson was dispossessed on the edge of his own box, but the returning Howson could only fire high into the Gallowgate end.

Just before the half-hour mark, Ruddy produced a breath-taking fingertip save to deny Ba’s  close-range volley as he stretched to meet Yohan Cabaye’s deft centre.

The Magpies were then denied a contentious penalty claim when Elliott Bennett appeared to handle the ball in the box.

Newcastle got behind the Norwich defence yet again when Jonas Gutierrez sent Cisse through on goal, but his shot was blocked by the onrushing Ruddy.

Andrew Surman spurned an opportunity for the visitors on the stroke of half time, wastefully firing wide from a tight angle target after Coloccini had failed to head clear Bennett’s cross.

Newcastle began the second half in the same manner as the first, and Hatem Ben Arfa skewed an effort narrowly wide.

But Norwich replied with two dangerous chances in close succession during their best spell of the game.

Anthony Pilkington was firstly denied by the legs of Tim Krul after running onto David Fox’s defence-splitting pass.

The Dutch keeper then produced a stunning save seconds later to acrobatically divert Zak Whitbread's bullet header over the bar from Bennett’s cross.

The game fizzled out as Newcastle were content to hold onto their slender lead to continue an impressive home record on Tyneside this season, where they have only succumbed to Chelsea and West Brom.

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