Ben Arfa genius lifts Toon
A Hatem Ben Arfa wonder goal helped Newcastle to a 2-0 victory over Bolton and moved Alan Pardew's club level on points with the top four.
Last Updated: 09/04/12 5:23pm
A Hatem Ben Arfa wonder goal helped Newcastle to a 2-0 victory over Bolton and moved Alan Pardew's club level on points with the Premier League's top four.
The Frenchman lit up what had been a fairly turgid affair with his magical second-half dribble and finish, which compared to his FA Cup stunner against Blackburn, before, 10 minutes later, Papiss Cisse made sure of the points.
It was Newcastle's fifth league win in a row and, combined with Tottenham's shock home defeat by Norwich, means they are now level with the UEFA Champions League places.
For Bolton, who had showed signs of upsetting Pardew's men with a determined and disciplined display, defeat was a little harsh.
But having confronted referee Mike Jones on the pitch after the final whistle, a furious Owen Coyle will know luck rarely works in your favour when fighting against relegation.
Following back-to-back defeats after the loss to Fulham, Bolton remained just a point outside the drop zone.
The respective ambitions of the two sides ahead of kick-off could hardly have been in starker contrast with Newcastle intent on sustaining an unlikely charge for Europe and Bolton simply looking for the points they need to extend their Premier League stay.
But with the locals having arrived hoping for a free-flowing attacking display from their side in the wake of Friday night's battling win at Swansea, what they got was a drab, joyless opening 45 minutes which would have delighted Bolton boss Coyle.
Cisse, who has put better defences than that boasted by Monday's visitors to the sword in recent weeks, was subdued as he and Newcastle's flair players failed to fire in the face of a determined rearguard action.
In addition, recalled veteran Bolton frontman Kevin Davies kept the returning Fabricio Coloccini and central defensive partner Mike Williamson busy throughout.
It said much about the opening period that the only half-chance came with 38 minutes gone, and that the result of an error by visiting goalkeeper Adam Bogdan which, fortunately for him, went unpunished.
French midfielder Yohan Cabaye had a brief glimpse of goal with 15 minutes played when the ball broke to him on the edge of the box after full-back Danny Simpson's charge had been halted, but he fired high over.
Sam Ricketts saw a long-range shot deflected wide by Coloccini four minutes later, but Tim Krul and Bogdan were never stretched as Bolton managed to frustrate their hosts.
Krul had to get down well at his near post to collect Martin Petrov's 31st minute strike, but there was never any real chance of the ball eluding his grasp, and his opposite number was similarly unworried by Coloccini's curling effort from distance two minutes later.
The only moment of note came seven minutes before the break, and perhaps fittingly, was something of a comedy of errors.
Bogdan got to Ben Arfa's inswinging free-kick under no pressure, but contrived to punch it straight at team-mate Ricketts with the ball, to his immense relief, flying wide of his unguarded goal.
There was almost an audible sigh of relief when referee Jones blew for half-time with the home fans hoping the restart would bring much, much better.
In the event, it very nearly brought much worse.
The home side, who had replaced utility man James Perch with Shane Ferguson at the break, found themselves pinned back inside their own half after Williamson had been penalised for a foul on Darren Pratley.
Newcastle dealt with the initial free-kick, but simply could not clear their lines, and Krul had to make a fine block after Chris Eagles had controlled a bouncing ball inside the box, side-stepped Coloccini and gone for goal left-footed.
But the Holland international was mightily relieved to see Petrov's 53rd minute cross elude Pratley after it had flown past him inside his six-yard box.
Mark Davies was unable to make the most of Kevin Davies' 64th minute cross to allow Krul to block his scuffed shot, and Pardew opted to make a further change.
He withdrew Demba Ba, who was not best pleased, and replaced him with Shola Ameobi, but it was Ben Arfa who sent a 68th minute free-kick wide of Bogdan's left post.
But the France international was not finished, and won the game with a run and finish which oozed class 17 minutes from time.
Ben Arfa picked up the ball from Cabaye deep inside his own half before setting off on an unstoppable run which saw him slip away from Mark Davies and in between central defenders David Wheater and Tim Ream before nonchalantly poking a shot past the advancing Bogdan.The game was over 10 minutes later when Ameobi turned Ream wide on the right and sent a cross to the far post where Cisse, who looked suspiciously offside, tapped home his now customary goal.
|Newcastle United||Team Statistics||Bolton Wanderers|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|3||Shots on Target||3|
|2||Shots off Target||3|
|52.7||1st Half Poss.||47.3|
|50.2||2nd Half Poss.||49.8|