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Pardew hails Toon character as Ba smashes Potters

NEWCASTLE manager Alan Pardew believes his side have proved they can tough it out at the most difficult of venues after the 3-1 win over Stoke at the Britannia Stadium.

Demba Ba, who had his medical gone better would have been a Potters player in January, scored a hat-trick to take his tally to eight in the last five league matches.

However, it was far from a solo performance as there were impressive contributions from the likes of tireless winger Jonas Gutierrez and midfielder Danny Guthrie.

And while the Magpies continue to surprise most pundits, moving into third just one point behind Manchester United, their manager hopes the critics will have seen a different side to his players.

"This is a really good Stoke side who have a strong squad and the way they play makes it difficult," he said.

"You have to show real character and my players did that. They showed another side to them and it is important in the Premier League you have many sides to your team."

Pardew was full of praise for Ba, who now has two hat-tricks already this season.

"I don't think there is any animosity between Demba and this club," said the Magpies boss, concerning Ba's failure to sign for the Potters.

"He did a great job at West Ham and I brought him to Newcastle and he has been absolutely terrific.

"Don't think this is a one-off from him; his link-up play, his all-round ability and his finishing. He is always on the move in the box and if you do that you are going to score goals."

Jonathan Walters briefly made it 2-1 with a 75th-minute penalty only for Ba to complete his treble with a spot-kick of his own.

But Stoke boss Tony Pulis admitted his side were second-best for most of the game.

"The two goals they scored -- you have to hold your hand up and say it is really good play," he said. "The second half we thought we might get something out of the game, but their penalty then killed us."