Premier League - Cisse strike downs Norwich

Sun, 18 Mar 17:57:00 2012

Papiss Cisse's third goal in five games for Newcastle United took his side to within two points of fifth-placed Chelsea following a 1-0 home win over Norwich City in the Premier League.

Newcastle 1 Norwich 0

The Senegal international shinned a volley home in unconventional but spectacular fashion after only 11 minutes at St James' Park and Newcastle clung on for a first victory in five Premier League games despite a somewhat disjointed performance in the second half.

Norwich, who stay 13th, were denied by some superb goalkeeping from Tim Krul as they were condemned to a fourth defeat in five Premier League games.

The players and fans at St James' Park applauded in support of Fabrice Muamba prior to kick-off, with the Bolton midfielder remaining in critical condition having suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch during an FA Cup tie against Tottenham on Saturday.

When the game did get under way, Newcastle's bold decision to play Hatem Ben Arfa in behind a front two of Cisse and Demba Ba was rewarded by a dominant first half in which Cisse - a January signing from Freiburg - enjoyed a succession of chances.

As early as two minutes into the game the Senegal international should have opened the scoring when he ran onto a long ball over the top from Yohan Cabaye and tried to lob the bouncing ball over John Ruddy, only to place his shot low enough for the keeper to get his fingers to it.

Cisse then combined with Cabaye again, playing in the Frenchman to the left of the box before Ben Arfa tried and failed to turn the subsequent low cross home with a clever flick.

Norwich - who won 4-2 in the reverse fixture at Carrow Road in December - were unable to create any chances of note as Newcastle firmly took the initiative and the visitors found themselves a goal down after 11 minutes.

Kyle Naughton allowed Jonas Gutierrez too much space and the winger whipped in a cross from the left that was met by an unexpected finish from Cisse as he got in front of his marker and extended a leg to turn the ball into the top corner with his shin.

It extended Norwich's run of top flight away games without a clean sheet to a Premier League record 29, and represents the worst such run in England's elite since Bolton went 34 without a clean sheet between 1979 and 1996.

Though Jonny Howson fired a shot narrowly over when Mike Williamson was caught in possession and Andrew Surman inexplicably hammered an effort well wide when well placed in the box, Newcastle continued to enjoy the greater number of chances and should have extended their lead before half-time.

Ruddy first denied Ba with an outstanding save as he got his fingertips to a neat effort from a Cabaye cross to turn the ball round the post, before the Norwich keeper - tipped by many for England recognition before long - excelled once again when rushing off his line and blocking another effort from Cisse as the striker collected a glorious pass off the outside of Gutierrez's boot.

Cisse was soon back in the act after the break, a firm low effort being grabbed by Ruddy at the second attempt, but Norwich were considerably better at the start of the second half and but for the reactions of Krul would have drawn level.

The Dutchman first blocked a ferocious effort from Anthony Pilkington from a tight angle and then surpassed himself when flinging out an arm to turn a bullet header from Zak Whitbread over the bar. Paul Lambert was already celebrating on the touchline, such was the apparent inevitability of a goal.

When Fabricio Coloccini was almost caught out with a sloppy back pass and then risked conceding a penalty with a clumsy barge on Howson, Newcastle reacted by bringing on Davide Santon for Ben Arfa in an attempt to tighten up at the back. It worked, and Newcastle enjoyed a chance of their own on 72 minutes when Cabaye saw his rifled effort parried by Ruddy and Ba proved unable to turn home the rebound when getting his legs in a mess.

Norwich threw on Grant Holt and Wes Hoolahan in the final minutes in an attempt to snatch a point, and the latter almost hit the target with an overhead kick, but Newcastle held on to end their winless streak and close on Chelsea.

Tom Adams - @tomEurosport / Eurosport

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