Newcastle boss Pardew hails Ben Arfa's 'truly special' goal

The Magpies manager calls on his France counterpart Laurent Blanc to bring the mercurial attacker to Euro 2012 and admits after beating Bolton 2-0 that he's aiming for the top four
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew hailed Hatem Ben Arfa after his “truly special goal” strengthened the Magpies' push for a Champions League place with a 2-0 win over relegation-threatened Bolton.

The Frenchman burst from his own half to break the deadlock against a well-drilled Trotters side midway through the second half before Papiss Cisse made the points safe with his 10th goal in Newcastle colours.

“You don’t see many goals like that. I have been lucky enough to see two of them this year both from the same player. It was a truly special goal,” Pardew told reporters at his post-match press conference.

“His first turn opened up the pitch a little bit and his speed has taken him past one and then a second player and the last bit was the cleverest when he just lifted the ball so the centre-half could not slide and make the tackle and the finish was typical Hatem.

“He didn’t panic, he just slid it in the corner. It was a truly outstanding goal.

“He will get all the plaudits and so he should for a goal of that quality. He has lot of pressure on him from people around him who expect the special but he is beginning to produce it and we are the [beneficiaries] of it.”

Pardew observed that Ben Arfa had been key to Newcastle’s five-match winning run that has left the Tyneside club level on points with fourth-placed Tottenham.

“It was important that he bought into our team ethic otherwise he wasn’t going to get a game,” the ex-Southampton boss added.

“It is not just about Hatem, it is about the team and his contribution to the team in this period has been outstanding. He has been a very big part of the period of wins we have had.

“I have been pushing the issue for him because he should definitely have a chance with the French squad.

"There are not many players able to do that and the French manager needs to understand that not only did he that goal but he had a hand in the second and his work-rate was phenomenal.”

For the first time, the Newcastle manager admitted that he is setting his sights on guiding the club into the Champions League this season.

“I have never actually ruled out the Champions League,” he argued. “This weekend will be important for us because, if the [FA Cup] semi-final results go our way, then we could be in Europe next weekend.

“And if that works out in our favour there is nothing else to go for but the Champions League so I think the semi-finals are important to us and we will be looking at them closely.

“We are up against Chelsea for that Champions League place if the results go against us and that is still very tough on us. To have this points total and not make Europe will be very tough to take. We have to keep our eye on the ball. We are not giving up on anything.

“As well as Hatem’s goal, Davide Santon had his best game for us, Tim Krul pulled off a couple of great saves so everything is adding up for us and we are having a great year.”