Sissoko earns Pardew plaudits
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew hailed a match-winning contribution from new signing Moussa Sissoko as his side gained a vital 2-1 win at fellow Barclays Premier League strugglers Aston Villa.
Sissoko, a £2 million capture from Toulouse, set up the opening goal for Papiss Cisse and impressed in his central midfield role. Yohan Cabaye's stunning strike doubled the Magpies' lead and all Villa could manage in a second-half fightback was Christian Benteke's penalty.
Pardew, who also gave a debut to another French player in Yoan Gouffran, was surprised at how quickly the newcomers slotted into his side. And he said: "I was a little bit surprised myself, if I'm honest. I don't think we would have won the game without Sissoko. That's how important I think that signing was."
He added: "When you are looking for players and trying to find the secret ingredient for your team, it's not always easy for players to come and fit in as they did in the first half.
"Sissoko really grabbed the game by the horns and that's what we needed.
"With Demba Ba departing from a team that hasn't been winning, it was a big blow for us and we really needed him for this game."
Villa have dropped into the bottom three for the third time this season and manager Paul Lambert knows his side cannot afford to perform as they did in the first half.
He said: "We paid the price for starting too slowly. We just never got going in the first half. The second half, that's the way to play football.
"The first goal was really disappointing; the second goal, you sometimes can't stop them - it was a terrific strike - and then you are facing an uphill battle. But I couldn't fault them for the way they played in the second half. It is the first time I've seen a standing ovation when you've been beaten, especially at home.
"I just said to the players 'you can't play like that in the first half and turn that performance in during the second half'. It is sometimes easier to play when you are 2-0 down because no-one expects anything then. You've got to start like that - and we never started."