Ba's hat-trick a treat for Newcastle
Stoke City 1 Newcastle U 3:THE ONLY thing that Demba Ba was missing was his halloween outfit. On a night when Newcastle United extended their unbeaten start to the Premier League season to 10 matches and climbed above Chelsea to third, Ba came back to haunt the manager who pulled out of signing him in January, scoring his second hat-trick of the season.
“A massive risk” was how Tony Pulis, the Stoke manager, described Ba after looking at the player’s medical reports when he was on the verge of joining from Hoffenheim. How he must be regretting his decision to turn down the player who inspired Newcastle to a victory that will force the Premier League to take their renaissance under Alan Pardew seriously. This was only the second time Stoke have lost at home in the league this year but they could have no complaints about the outcome – Newcastle executed their game plan perfectly.
Jon Walters’ late penalty threatened to give Newcastle an uncomfortable finale, but within four minutes Ba had put the game beyond Stoke with a penalty of his own, after Robert Huth bundled over Leon Best. It was his 11th goal of a season that promises much.
It was a measure of how well Newcastle played in the first half that Britannia Stadium came close to falling silent for long periods.
Ba’s first was a simple goal. Tim Krul, the Newcastle goalkeeper, punted long upfield towards Best, who was allowed a free header.
Gabriel Obertan escaped into the space that opened up behind the Stoke defence before delivering a splendid cross that the unmarked Ba headed home.
Stoke seemed strangely subdued and devoid of ideas going forward. Newcastle, in contrast, looked threatening whenever they counter-attacked, especially through Ba’s pace, which troubled Stoke twice before the forward scored his second.
Matt Upson’s header from Fabricio Coloccini’s hopeful cross was weak and dropped for Best about eight yards out. After taking a couple of touches, Best scuffed his shot but it fell invitingly for Ba, who had the simple task of prodding it over the line.
Stoke had offered little in response. Rory Delap’s long throw-ins were dealt with comfortably and it was 35 minutes before Matthew Etherington registered Stoke’s first notable effort on goal.
The booing that accompanied the half-time whistle was loud and predictable. Stoke came out with renewed fight and began to crank up the pressure. Robert Huth, who had replaced Marc Wilson before the break, headed an Etherington’s corner over the bar. Peter Crouch was then unable to get a touch to a loose ball amid a melee of players inside the penalty area.
Stoke were thrown a lifeline when Ba barged Crouch in the area. Walters composed himself before hammering his penalty beyond Krul and the Britannia, at last, found its voice.
But Ba quickly turned the volume down on them again.
STOKE CITY: Begovic, Wilkinson, Shawcross (Upson 19), Woodgate, Wilson (Huth 41), Pennant, Delap, Whelan, Etherington (Jones 68), Walters, Crouch. Subs not used: Sorensen, Whitehead, Jerome, Palacios.
NEWCASTLE UTD: Krul, Simpson, Steven Taylor, Coloccini, Ryan Taylor, Obertan, Guthrie (Gosling 90), Cabaye (Perch 78), Gutierrez, Best (Sammy Ameobi 86), Ba. Subs not used: Elliot, Santon, Ben Arfa, Marveaux. Booked: Perch.
Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral).