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Premier League

  • 15 January 2012
  • • 13:30
  • • St. James' Park, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
  • Referee: C. Foy
  • • Attendance: 49865
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Newcastle 1-0 QPR: Leon Best strike moves Magpies into sixth but Yohan Cabaye injury sours victory for hosts

Newcastle 1-0 QPR: Leon Best strike moves Magpies into sixth but Yohan Cabaye injury sours victory for hosts

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The Irishman's first-half strike was enough to seal three points for Alan Pardew's team and inflict defeat on Mark Hughes in his return to the Premier League as Hoops manager

Mark Hughes' first game in charge of QPR ended in defeat as a first-half goal from Leon Best handed Newcastle United three points at the Sports Direct Arena.

After a positive start from the visitors, Best struck in the 37th minute to lift his team above Liverpool and into sixth place in the Premier League.

QPR, meanwhile, remain in the relegation zone following Blackburn Rovers' 3-1 win over Fulham on Saturday.

Danny Guthrie came into the Newcastle midfield and Best partnered Shola Ameobi in attack in the absence of key duo Cheick Tiote and Demba Ba, who are playing at this month’s Africa Cup of Nations.

With Joey Barton suspended and Alejandro Faurlin ruled out for the rest of the season with a cruciate ligament injury, Akos Buzsaky partnered Shaun Derry in central midfield for QPR.

Martin O’Neill has certainly revitalised a similarly struggling Sunderland side since taking over from Steve Bruce and it looked as if the arrival of Hughes might reinvigorate Rangers, who have failed to win a single one of their last eight Premier League fixtures.

They were defensively organised and looked bright when attacking early on, with Buzsaky testing Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul from distance before Shaun Wright-Phillips clipped the top of the crossbar from the edge of the box.

Alan Pardew’s team, on the other hand, lethargically passed the ball around their defence and midfield and struggled to spring into life in the opposition half. They also lost key midfielder Yohan Cabaye only 20 minutes into the match, after he was caught on the ankle by Derry.

Ironically, it was the substitution of the Frenchman that seemed to bring the home side into the game. The combination of the crowd’s displeasure at the challenge from Derry and their delight at the introduction of Hatem Ben Arfa provoked more vocal support and the Newcastle players responded accordingly.

Their approach play improved dramatically and after some neat hold-up play from Ameobi, Ryan Taylor located Best in the penalty area. The Irish striker moved inside his marker with a wonderful touch and fired past past Paddy Kenny to open the scoring.


Blessing in disguise? | Cabaye's early exit brought Newcastle to life

Jay Bothroyd was guilty of spurning two good chances early in the second half – the first of which he may have buried had it come on his preferred left foot – as QPR continued to show they were far from out of the game.

Newcastle were sloppy and perhaps missing the solid base and discipline usually provided by Cabaye and Tiote in the centre of the park. Best and Ben Arfa were seeing plenty of the ball but too often coughed up possession, making it difficult for Pardew’s team to maintain any attacking pressure.

Newcastle may have been somewhat low on quality in midfield and attack on the day but their defence delivered a sharper performance. The unit of Danny Simpson, Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini and Davide Santon has now helped the Magpies to three consecutive victories and conceded just one goal in the process.

In an attempt to get QPR back into the game, Wright-Phillips was moved into central midfield to accommodate substitute Tommy Smith, but too often he found himself picking up the ball in too deep a position to threaten the Newcastle back four. Federico Macheda was then introduced in place of Buzsaky but cut an isolated figure in attack as Pardew’s side held out with few problems to secure three points.

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