Video: Pardew hails Ben Arfa class as Magpies prevail
NEWCASTLE UTD 2 BLACKBURN 1
Published 08/01/2012 | 05:00
Newcastle united boss Alan Pardew hailed Hatem Ben Arfa's first FA Cup goal as the best he had ever seen in person after a dramatic victory over Blackburn.
The mercurial Frenchman emerged from the frustration of having to bide his time on the bench since his return from an horrific leg fracture by marking a rare start with a stunning 70th-minute equaliser.
Ben Arfa cut a swathe through the Blackburn Rovers team with a breathtaking mazy run before blasting a left-footed shot past goalkeeper Mark Bunn to set up a thrilling finish.
Pardew said: "It's the greatest goal I have ever seen with my eyes because just the technical part of it -- to beat six players, to skip past people, left-foot, right-foot, cut-back, accelerate, everything that was involved in it, it was an unbelievable goal. I am absolutely chuffed for him."
Ben Arfa's contribution came at the end of a week during which he spoke of his disappointment at being unable to force his way into the team, although his manager had no problem with his comments.
"I didn't have to clear the air with him. His comments this week, I read them and I thought they were spot on. He understands that this is a big agenda for him -- he needs to do well here," Pardew said.
"At some other clubs, it hasn't gone so well and he is doing everything in his power to make it happen here, and that's good for us. He's had situations in France where his talent hasn't come to the fore as much as it should have, perhaps, and then he has had a terrible injury here.
"He knows this is a great opportunity at this football club. He probably feels that he could play for France, and I know the French Federation look at him very closely.
"Is he going to emerge because he has got the talent that he showed today? We are all hoping he does, of course."
The Magpies, who were beginning life without the African Nations Cup-bound duo of Demba Ba (Senegal) and Cheick Tiote (Ivory Coast), dominated the early stages of the game, but found Bunn in redoubtable form.
In the event, it was the visitors who took the lead when David Goodwillie bundled the ball home from close range after goalkeeper Tim Krul had parried Grant Hanley's 35th-minute header.
Ben Arfa sent a huge sigh of relief, as well of cheers of admiration, around the stadium with his fine solo effort and after defender Mike Williamson had hit the bar and forced a fine 83rd-minute save from Bunn, Jonas Gutierrez stepped up to the plate.
The Argentinian exchanged passes with striker Leon Best before clipping the ball over the keeper and into the net for a 95th-minute winner.
"I am really pleased. It was an important game today in the respect that Demba and Cheick were away and that we got a victory. We can go into QPR in good heart," added Pardew.
Opposite number Steve Kean, whose side put the Magpies out of the Carling Cup in October, was disappointed not to have taken them back to Ewood Park.
"We are disappointed we haven't got a replay. We played very well in the first half and I felt on our first-half performance, we merited one," Kean said.
"First and foremost, we wanted to get through to the next round and I think everybody would see that in the way we played in the first half, and we are really disappointed we are not in the next round."
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