New boy about Toon Cisse provides finish worthy of famous number nine shirt
Newcastle Utd 2 Aston Villa 1
IF a certain lager manufacturer did Newcastle United debuts, they would not be able to better the one enjoyed by Papiss Demba Cisse, whose stunning strike in front of the Gallowgate End was the highlight of an impressive all-round display from the new No 9.
Generations of Geordies have dreamed of scoring a goal like his with the club's iconic shirt on their backs, as Cisse chested the ball down on the edge of the penalty area and sent an unstoppable left-footed shot flying into the top corner.
As a young boy growing up in Senegal, Cisse probably had rather different dreams and aspirations to those born and raised on Tyneside and indoctrinated with tales of Newcastle's famous No 9s, but this was still the perfect start for the £10m January arrival from Freiburg.
It was not just his goal that had the home fans buzzing. A willing worker, he put England's Darren Bent to shame in that respect as he hustled and bustled the Villa defenders.
Cisse is also quick and dangerous and turns sharply in both directions with the ball at his feet. Most importantly of all, like Bent, he clearly knows where the goal is.
It was not just the power of his shot in the 72nd minute; it was the placement. The ball never looked destined for anywhere but the most unreachable corner from the moment it left his boot, yet he can shoot just as well with either foot.
Having decided to leave him on the bench, Newcastle manager Alan Pardew was pressurised into giving Cisse his debut after only 14 minutes because of an injury to Leon Best and the standing ovation that greeted him sent a shiver down the spine for all those who understood what comes with the number he has taken.
"He is the right age for the jersey, he's not a novice and has been honed in the Bundesliga," said Pardew. "You need to have a good start here with that number on your back, which is what he has had.
"From the first moment he touched the ball, when he turned away from a defender he showed what a good player he is. The goal was something special, 'Boy's Own' stuff and not bad for his weaker foot.
"I think our supporters will be nudging each other because they can see we have got ourselves a good one."
Cisse has some way to go before he is as prolific in English football as Bent, although he outperformed a player who cost £14m more when he moved to Villa from Sunderland just over 12 months ago.
Twice Bent was sent through on goal and twice he was denied by Newcastle's bright young goalkeeper Tim Krul, the first when he spread himself and blocked with his chest, the second when he saved with his legs.
"We created enough chances to win the game," said Villa manager Alex McLeish, who claimed Stephen Ireland's non-appearance for the second half was due to an ankle injury and not because the midfielder had sworn at him on the touchline.
Villa were, particularly in the first half, the better side. Yet, Newcastle continue to defy their detractors, even with a midfield -- in the absence of Yohan Cabaye and Cheick Tiote -- with the exception of Jonas Gutierrez, most people would have only expected to see line up for the reserve team.
Charles N'Zogbia set up Robbie Keane to score his 150th league goal in English football in first-half injury-time.
That Keane goal came in the time added when Ryan Taylor was carried off the pitch on the half-hour mark after Stephen Warnock's studs had connected with his ankle.
Had Demba Ba's sharp finish -- his 16th of the season -- not diverted attention away from the Villa full-back, Warnock would almost certainly have been shown a straight red card.