Points gift-wrapped for Pardew’s men

Newcastle 5 Stoke 1

Points gift-wrapped for Pardew’s men

With his side trailing to a goal from Oussama Assaidi, the Newcastle manager watched in disbelief as two Stoke players were dismissed in the space of three crazy first-half minutes.

He then watched referee Martin Atkinson miss a handball in the build up to Loic Remy’s equaliser, and allow play to continue in the run up to Newcastle’s second goal despite Hatem Ben Arfa taking the ball out of play before rolling it to Yoan Gouffran.

With their opponents failing to cope with just nine men, the Magpies added further goals from Remy, Yohan Cabaye and Papiss Cisse. Ultimately, though, it was Atkinson’s close calls that made the difference.

Pardew said: “The team wasn’t quite working as I’d liked, and I was looking to change it at half-time, but the sending offs changed it. We were as clinical as you could be in the second half.

“To be fair to Stoke, they did very well in the first period. Then we showed we have a lot of attacking options, which was nice for us and it was difficult for Stoke.”

For the opening 29 minutes of the game, nothing happened. Then in a little over a quarter-of-an-hour there was a missed penalty, two goals and three dismissals, if you include Stoke boss Mark Hughes, who was sent to the stands. So much for a post-Christmas lull.

The chaotic spell began positively for the visitors, who claimed the lead shortly before the half-hour mark when Assaidi picked up a knock-down from Charlie Adam and curled an excellent strike into the bottom corner of Tim Krul’s net. Having also scored the winner against Chelsea, the Liverpool loanee is finally coming to terms with life in the Potteries. However, if Stoke thought the opening goal was going to be the cue for a routine away win, they were sadly mistaken.

Five minutes later, Glenn Whelan clashed with Moussa Sissoko and was booked for kicking the ball away before confronting Cabaye.

Six minutes after that, and with his battle with Cabaye having continued, the Irishman nonsensically clattered into the back of the Newcastle midfielder. It was a soft way to receive a second yellow card, but for an experienced international, also an inexcusable one.

Hughes’ fury saw him hurl his coat into the air as he was sent to the stands, and the Stoke boss’ mood worsened when his side was reduced to nine men two minutes before the break.

Vurnon Anita’s through ball released Remy into the area, and Marc Wilson was dismissed for pulling down the Frenchman as he turned towards goal.

Hughes was angry afterwards: “People say he’s one of the best referees in the league, and he’s performed worse than the standard required today.

“We’re dumbstruck by the performance of the referee, unfortunately. I’m dismayed by his performance. When you’re on a yellow card you have to be careful, but Glenn Whelan is just as bemused as everybody.”

Remy’s penalty was saved by Thomas Sorensen, but the Newcastle striker made amends within a minute. Ben Arfa dribbled upfield, and after receiving the ball on the edge of the area, Remy drilled home via a deflection off Ryan Shawcross.

Stoke were aggrieved at a possible handball from Mike Williamson in the build-up to Newcastle’s opening goal, and the visitors were denied the rub of the green again as the hosts claimed the lead three minutes after the break.

Ben Arfa appeared to have dribbled the ball over the touchline as he crossed from the right, but play was allowed to continue, and after Sorensen made a hash of an attempted punch, Gouffran drilled home for the fifth home game in succession.

With their numerical advantage making a huge difference, it did not take long for Newcastle to extend their lead, with Remy heading home at the back post after Moussa Sissoko flicked on Davide Santon’s cross.

Yohan Cabaye added a fourth goal shortly after, side-footing home from the edge of the area to round off a slick passing move. Cisse completed the rout from the penalty spot with ten minutes left.

Newcastle United: Krul 6; Debuchy 6, Coloccini 6, Williamson 6, Santon 5 (Haidara 61,5); Sissoko 6, Cabaye 8, Anita 5 (Sh. Ameobi 45,6), Gouffran 5 (Cisse 72,7); Ben Arfa 8; Remy 7.

Stoke City: Sorensen 6; Cameron 7, Shawcross 6, Wilson 4, Pieters 5;, Walters 5, Nzonzi 5 (Munieza 72,5), Whelan 4, Adam 6; Assaidi 6 (Wilkinson 45,5); Crouch 5 (Palacios 59,6).

Referee: Martin Atkinson 5.

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