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February 23, 2014
• St. James' Park, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Referee: M. Atkinson
• Attendance: 50417
L. Rémy 90'+
FULL-TIME: Newcastle 1-0 Aston Villa. Remy's stunning late goal - his 12th Premier League strike of the season - was the difference between the two teams at St James' Park as the returning striker eased the tension amongst the Magpies faithful to put a halt to a five-game losing streak at home and find the net for the first time since mid-January, mainly due to the three-game absence of today's matchwinner, as the home side move above Southampton into eighth.
90' + 2'
Yellow Card Loïc Remy
90' + 2'
Goal Loïc Remy
GOAL! And that could well be the winner as Remy finally finds the back of the net with a stunning finish to break Villa's resolve. It is reward for a fine performance in the final 10 minutes and, when the impressive De Jong's shot is blocked, it falls perfectly for his fellow strike partner to control the ball, spin past his marker and crash home past the exposed Guzan. The goal sends St James' Park into raptures. What a massive goal that could be.
POST: Unbelievable. The game until 80 minutes had been stale and bereft of attacking quality but we have had a raft of chances in the final 10 and now Newcastle hit the upright. De Jong does superbly to rob Vlaar and tee up Remy but his shot cannons back off the post.
The game really has sparked into life here and now it's Newcastle's time to attack but Sissoko's cross is poor. Villa break but Agbonlahor cannot quite pick out Benteke in the area.
Agbonlahor does superbly to engineer a chance for Weimann but the Austrian greedily elects to shoot from 25 yards with the former and Benteke in close attendance. He sees his effort roll harmlessly wide.
Newcastle all of a sudden look the most threatening and have a goal ruled out for offside as Sissoko and sub De Jong get confused from a ball forward and the Frenchman's pass to the Dutchman was ultimately in vain after he had strayed.
From the resulting corner, Coloccini is adamant his side should have a penalty as his flick appears to be handled by Bacuna but referee Martin Atkinson waves away the protests.
And from the counter attack, the game sparks into life. Benteke should have done better when he reached the penalty area and had Weimann and Agbonlahor to pick out, but Williamson's trailing leg blocked his attempted pass. Newcastle then surge upfield and Remy tests Guzan down low after cutting in onto his right foot.
Good forward play from Remy sees the Frenchman win his team a free-kick, but Gouffran's effort is poor and straight into the wall. His subsequent delivery is caught by Guzan and Villa can break.
Vurnon Anita wins a free kick for his side in a central position around 30 yards out after a brainless foul from Agbonlahor. But it is wasted, much to the discontent of the home fans. Joe Bennett comes on for Bertrand amongst all of that.
The lack of quality in the final third is telling in the scoreline but the importance of a goal for either side cannot be underestimated here.
Luuk de Jong
Newcastle make their first substitution, as Cisse is replaced by De Jong for the final 20 minutes or so. The on-loan Dutchman will be eager to fare better in front of goal than the man who trudges towards the bench after another poor showing. Ryan Bertrand is then fortunate to get away without being booked after scything down Gouffran.
Yellow Card Karim El Ahmadi
The Magpies are just missing that piece of quality in the final third and the man who scored their last goal, Yohan Cabaye - who is now a PSG man - has rubbed salt in his former side's wounds by setting up an assist for Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the Ligue 1 leaders' 4-2 win at Toulouse. They are not missing any combative qualities, however, with Tiote going into the book.
Yellow Card Cheikh Tiote
Now Tiote chances his arm, lining one up from range and testing Guzan with a searing low effort which the American has to get down to deal with.
Another good move from the home side results in Remy bringing the ball down and Gouffran lashing high into the stands on the volley. Certainly another good opening wasted.
Newcastle are getting closer and youngster Dummett has gone inches away from opening the scoring. He combines nicely with Sissoko and, having received the return pass, he bends a powerful effort just over Guzan's crossbar.
Sylla wastes an early chance to make an impression, as his optimistic pass sails straight through to a grateful Krul. Bacuna probes the right flank seconds later and produces a cross, which is also clutched by the goalkeeper.
Ashley Westwood is replaced by Yacouba Sylla after an impressive cameo and heads straight down the tunnel, presumably having picked up some sort of knock.
It has been a bright start to the second period from the home side's perspective but Villa remain a constant threat when the hosts do lose the ball. You get the impression one goal could settle it here.
Newcastle launch a succession of crosses into the Villa area but they are all easily dealt with, before Agbonlahor leads a charge downfield. But Gouffran does superbly to stay toe to toe with the winger and the momentum of the counter attack stalled as a result.
CLOSE: Gouffran has the first real opening of the second half, firing off a snapshot from the right side of the 18-yard box, but it zips just past Guzan's upright. Better from the hosts, though, after some concerted pressure.
Vlaar fends off Remy's direct run into the left-sided channel and Newcastle's latest attacking offering comes to nothing. The Dutchman has really impressed in the Villa backline this afternoon.
Cisse is flagged offside as he looks to get over his miss just prior to the interval and lead Newcastle from the front. They certainly need more of a contribution from the rangy striker.
Bacuna does well to deal with the threat of Gouffran on the left but Villa are quickly back into their stride, with Weimann finding tie and space down the right, but fails to deliver a telling ball from a wide position.
Aston Villa get the ball rolling and we are back underway for the second half of this one.
HALF-TIME: Newcastle 0-0 Aston Villa. Moments prior to the whistle, Cisse missed arguably the best chance of the contest by blazing over from Remy's cutback but St James' Park remains on edge with Villa looking the most dangerous in front of goal. Agbonlahor, El Ahmadi and Weimann have all gone close but it remains scoreless in what has proven a lively clash.
45' + 2'
A nice passing move almost sees Gouffran escape the tireless Bacuna but the ball is too strong and rolls out of play on the left.
Benteke is strong and direct as he proceeds down the right unchallenged before drilling a low cross into the area. Debuchy takes a chance, happy to bide his time before hacking the ball clear.
Yellow Card Ron Vlaar
Vlaar concedes a free-kick just outside the area with a rash challenge and presents Remy with a chance to open the scoring. The Frenchman bends the ball around the wall and looks to arc it back inside the post, but Guzan is happy to watch it wide.
Villa continue to press their hosts and Newcastle cannot make progress upfield, despite nearly cashing in on some slack defending from Ron Vlaar.
Now Gouffran is stricken on the turf after falling heavily under a challenge with Benteke and Delph. He looks like he may have jarred his knee slightly there but play eventually resumes.
The corner is delivered into the area and Weimann has his head in his hands after failing to apply a convincing touch when the ball fell his way amidst a host of bodies in the Newcastle area.
Agbonlahor is at the heart of Villa's best moves here and he goes close again, firing a low effort which cannons off a Newcastle body and past Krul for a corner. Baker is down and holding his ankle and may have to be replaced.
Cisse releases Sissoko over on the right with a looping pass after a lovely first touch and the midfielder manages to win a corner for his side after his attempted cross was blocked.
Bacuna defends well to stifle Dummett's venture down the left wing and the visitors are looking very comfortable. If they could steal an opener, particularly given their threat on the counter attack, Lambert's men would be in a strong position against a poor Newcastle side.
Gouffran almost steals in on the far side but Guzan is out quickly to pounce on the loose ball before Agbonlahor sees his appeals for a free-kick prove in vain after Moussa Sissoko looked to have caught him.
Newcastle enjoy a spell of possession as they look to get back into the contest but they look devoid of any creative quality in midfieldand are relying on long passes into Remy to find space going forward.
Debuchy's long ball is nodded on by an offside Cisse as he searches for Remy's run but the linesman is alert and raises his flag. Villa get in down the right flank again but defend well to thwart any goalscoring threat.
Villa have established a stranglehold on this contest and are looking confident in possession. Newcastle, meanwhile, are struggling to string passes together with the visitors pressing high up the pitch to deny space.
Agbonlahor goes even closer this time, engineering some space in midfield and bursting into the gap, before crashing a powerful effort from range just over the crossbar. Moments later, Weimann escapes from an increasingly-exposed Dummett on the right wing, but his cross is behind Benteke and is just about cleared by a stretched Newcastle rearguard.
Delph speeds away down the left, with Debuchy vacating his right-back spot and sends in a fizzing cross which Agonlahor controls, before testing Krul with a left-footed effort which the Dutchman has to paw aside.
El Ahmadi goes close to helping his side to an opener with two teasing crosses across the face of goal but Benteke is unable to tuck the first home before Weimann goes agonisingly close to poking home the Moroccan's centre.
Both sides just looking to suss one another out in a rather languid opening to the game here. Newcastle are shading it at the moment.
Remy looks to play a one-two with Yoan Gouffran having evaded the attentions of El Ahmadi, but he was marshalled well by Nathan Baker once he had advanced into the area and Villa can clear.
Debuchy finds Remy with a superb pass into the right-hand channel but Ron Vlaar recovers well, having initially played the striker onside, to step in and win the ball back as the home side flooded players forward into the area.
Newcastle force a corner and, after a succession of speculative crosses, the ball is worked out to the left-hand side of the penalty area where Cisse brings the ball down and back onto his right foot before testing Guzan with a low, curling effort which the American is forced to parry.
Bacuna attempts a long pass towards Agbonlahor but Mathieu Debuchy and Mike Williamson do well to quell the winger's efforts to speed in behind the last line of defence and Krul is able to gather.
Papiss Cisse is flagged offside after an excellent first-time pass from the right is played into his path but replays showed the Senegalese striker had strayed marginally.
Gabriel Agonlahor is felled in a promising position from a Villa perspective but free-kick specialist Leandro Bacuna is unable to provide any inspiration with his effort, getting the ball up over the wall but it sailed wide of Tim Krul's right-hand post.
Fabian Delph gives the ball away needlessly in midfield and Tiote steals in before feeding Remy in an inside right position. The Frenchman unleashes a low shot but Brad Guzan gets everything behind it to save.
Newcastle kick off and we are underway here.
St James' Park observes a minute's applause for the late Sir Tom Finney, as all four sections of the crowd rise to salute one of this country's greatest.
Were Villa to inflict a fifth consecutive home defeat on a beleaguered-looking Newcastle side the groans from the St James' Park faithful would only grow louder. It looks set to be a tight game nonetheless between two struggling sides and we are just moments from kick off now.
Just like Remy's return for Newcastle, you feel Christian Benteke will be crucial in helping preserve this Villa side's Premier League status. He is the club's top scorer this season in the league, with eight, but that still falls 11 shy of his tally in his debut campaign in English football.
But this match pits two strugglers against one another with Villa also enduring a mid-season stutter, having won just two of their last 12 league games, losing their last three in the process. You sense they may have to get a result here given a stern-looking upcoming fixture list involving clashes with Norwich City, Manchester City and Chelsea.
The Villans have won more games on the road this season than they have at Villa Park and have proven more effective away from home than any of their other fellow relegation rivals and a win today could be crucial given they lie just four points above the drop zone.
Pardew will be hoping for similar luck against another claret and blue outfit this afternoon in Villa but Lambert's side have a tremendous away record this term and their percentage of away points (61%) is the highest in the Premier League.
The Magpies have failed to score in seven of their last eight Premier League games, however, and worse still is the fact Yohan Cabaye - now a PSG player - scored two of the goals in a 3-1 win at West Ham United. The other man to score - Remy - has been the other standout player for Newcastle this season and his return is a huge boost for the hosts.
After exiting the FA Cup at the beginning of January, no European participation to worry about and a mid-table spot in the league more or less assured, Newcastle's season is threatening to unravel at a rate of knots.
Villa manager Paul Lambert, meanwhile, also makes changes with Karim El Ahmadi and Andreas Weimann returning to the first-team fold to replace Joe Bennett and Mark Albrighton respectively.
So Alan Pardew tinkers with his squad, as he looks to stop his side's recent rut, and is able to welcome back key trio Fabricio Coloccini, Cheick Tiote and Loic Remy. The former two return from spells on the sidelines while the on-loan forward is back from suspension. Youngster Paul Dummett also comes in, with Davide Santon rested.
Aston Villa: Guzan; Bacuna, Vlaar, Baker, Bertrand; Westwood, El Ahmadi, Delph; Weimann, Benteke, Agbonlahor. Substitutes: Steer, Sylla, Holt, Clark, Albrighton, Tonev, Bennett.
Newcastle United: Krul; Debuchy, Williamson, Coloccini, Dummett; Sissoko, Tiote, Anita, Gouffran; Remy Cisse. Substitutes: Elliott, Haidara, Yanga-Mbiwa, Taylor, Gosling, Shola Ameobi, De Jong.
The team news is in, with the hosts making four changes while Villa have two alterations to the team that drew 0-0 last time out at Cardiff City.
Good afternoon and welcome to the LIVE commentary of Newcastle United v Aston Villa from St James' Park. My name is Tom Marshall-Bailey, and I will be bringing you all the latest developments this afternoon.
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