Stoke City 1-3 Newcastle: Demba Ba bags hat-trick as former transfer target comes back to haunt Tony Pulis on Halloween
The Magpies remain unbeaten in the league and move into third place after visitors secure impressive win despite Walters pulling a goal back with 10 minutes remaining
By Michael Lightfoot
The Senegalese striker failed a medical for the Potters in January, as there were worries about his knees, and instead joined Newcastle in the summer at the end of his contract with West Ham.
And it was his contribution as well as the Magpies' brilliant display of defending against Stoke's style of play which saw them leapfrog Chelsea in the league.
The opening exchanges consisted of a series of long balls, as both sides tried to test the resolve of each other’s back four in the air. And fittingly it was a lofted delivery that produced the first goal of the game.Newcastle’s Dutch goalkeeper Tim Krul pumped the ball into the opposition’s half, striker Leon Best flicked it on to winger Gabriel Obertan before his nicely measured cross found Ba in the box.
The ball was slightly behind the striker but Ba adjusted his body shape well before guiding his header the left of Begovic, who was diving to his right, and into the bottom of the corner.
The Stoke keeper was in a personal battle with Ba all night, and Yohan Cabaye’s ball in behind the defence caused the hosts problems, but Begovic ran out and just cleared in time.
But then Ba got the better of him in moments later as Best’s low cross-cum-shot fell at his feet as he ghosted into the area and he tapped home beyond the despairing goalkeeper.
Hat-trick or treat? | Demba Ba haunts former suitors on Halloween
The second-half proved to be a tale of two penalties.
The Newcastle hero of the hour brought down Peter Crouch in the box after a clumsy challenge following a bit of head tennis in the penalty area.
Jonathan Walters thundered home the resulting spot-kick which set up a fascinating final ten minutes.
But any hopes of a comeback were over as Robert Huth lent into Best in the box and Mike Dean pointed to the spot immediately.
The Irishman didn’t go down but the shove was enough and Ba duly obliged to score a perfect hat-trick – scoring with his left, right and head – which was also his second three-goal feast this season and the second consecutive hat-trick to be scored by Newcastle on Halloween after Kevin Nolan’s goal frenzy against Sunderland last season.
Obertan went close to increasing the lead but his shot just fizzled past the post as Newcastle held on to what eventually turned out to be a well-earned three points to remain unbeaten in the league.
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