Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew hailed Hatem Ben Arfa brilliant solo goal in the FA Cup tie against Blackburn Rovers as the “best I have ever seen”.
Pardew saluted the mercurial Frenchman after his sublime individual effort pulled Newcastle back from the brink against Premier League rivals who led through David Goodwillie’s goal until Ben Arfa intervened and Jonas Gutierrez scored a late winner.
“Hatem Ben Arfa’s goal was technically the greatest goal I have ever seen,” Pardew told reporters at his post-match press conference.
“You can volley them into the top corner, you can smash them in from 40 yards but to score a goal like that you have to be a special talent.
“It was the best I have seen because of the technical part of it – to beat six players, to skip past people, left foot, right foot, accelerate, everything that was involved in that.
“It was an unbelievable goal and I am really pleased for Hatem because he has had a tough time here with the injury and everything so it showed today that hopefully Demba Ba will not be as sorely missed as we thought he might be. Hatem was sensational, particularly in the second half when we moved him to the left.”
Pardew believes that Newcastle provide the perfect platform for Ben Arfa to force his way into the French national side ahead of Euro 2012 even though he has struggled to win a regular 1st XI slot on Tyneside.
“I don’t have to clear the air with him,” Pardew added. “He understands that this is a big agenda for him. He needs to do well. At other clubs it hasn’t gone so well and he is doing everything in his power to make it happen here and that is good for us.
“He has had situations in France where his talent hasn’t come to the fore as much as it should have perhaps and then he has had the terrible injury here. He knows this is a great opportunity for him at this club.
“He probably feels as though he could play for France and I know the French Football Federation are looking very closely at him. He is a special player and we have to treat him sometimes in a special way.
“We play a high-energy game and we are trying to fit him into that. There is a balance there but in the second half you have to say he was outstanding. He has to understand that it is about the team and where we think he fits in best and that is where we will put his talent.”
Pardew insisted his team deserved to go through to the fourth round at Rovers’ expense.
“We were not so good in the first half but in the second half we played as well as we have all season and we caused them all sorts of problems,” Pardew added. “It was late the winning goal but we deserved it.
“That is the third win in four games for us and we are delighted to be in the fourth round. Most of our fans wouldn’t have been able to afford to come today which is shame because they would have witnessed a very special second half because we were brilliant after the break.
Pardew also played down Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp’s claim that leading scorer Demba Ba, currently on Africa Cup of Nations duty with Senegal, had a £10-million release clause written into his contract.
“I just feel that I thought listening to the conversation that the media tripped him up a bit,” Pardew said. “You don’t want to end up talking about other players in the transfer window and I am sure he probably regrets that a little bit. But Demba is a Newcastle player. He has been brilliant for us and that is all I want to say about it.”