Newcastle United Football Club took another step towards realizing its dream of qualifying for the European Champions League as they were spurred on from goals from Hatem Ben Arfa and Papiss Cisse to knock off Bolton 2-0 at home. The win was Newcastleâ€™s fifth in a row in the English Premier League, and sees them within striking distance of their top four rivals Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea.
While the opening 70 minutes was battle of defensive wits, Ben Arfa quickly changed that in the 73rd minute. The French midfielderâ€™s clever flick on the halfway line lost his marker and bought him the space to drive at the Bolton defense, carrying the ball the best part of 50 yards and majestically evading two more Trotters defenders before calmly poking the ball past a flailing Trotters keeper Adam Bogdan.
Then Cisse continued his siege on the Premier League. Substitute Shola Ameobi impressively turned Ream and galloped down the right flank before delivering a pinpoint cross which Cisse gleefully tapped home for his 10th goal in nine matches.
An uninspired opening yielded no real chances for either side, as the visitors appeared content to establish themselves without committing too many men forward and the hosts lacked the penetration to build on numerous spells of fairly comfortable possession. In these early moments it was defenders, rather than attackers, who caught the eye. Tim Ream recovered well to halt Cisseâ€™s progress down the right flank, before Coloccini blocked Sam Rickettsâ€™ shot from the edge of the area.
The Argentine then looked to contribute in attack, carrying the ball forward and lofting a precise ball in behind for the onrushing Demba Ba, but the Senegalese striker was denied a chance by a combination of his own first touch and the linesmanâ€™s flag. Ba has been another Muslim force on the Newcastle squad, putting home 16 goals in the Premiership this season, tying him for 4th in the league in scoring with fellow Muslim striker Aiyegeni Yukubu of Blackburn.
Newcastle came closer to a breakthrough on 38 minutes, as Ben Arfaâ€™s whipped free kick forced Bogdan to rush out in order to deal with the danger. The Hungarianâ€™s punch, however, ricocheted dangerously off Ricketts and flew out of play. Darren Pratley wasted a decent chance for Bolton on the stroke of half-time when he headed straight at Tim Krul from close range, but it was no great surprise when a first half which had offered nothing to merit a goal got the scoreline it deserved.
The Newcastle faithful raised the decibel level in a bid to wake their team from their slumber, and Ben Arfa came close to providing the desired response when he flashed a free-kick just wide with Bogdan scrambling for his post. But the brilliant Frenchman was not to be denied, and with 73 minutes on the clock he produced what must be considered one of the goals of the season.
With a two-goal cushion, Pardewâ€™s men comfortably closed out another win which brings their Champions League dream one step closer to becoming a reality. The win ties them with Tottenham for 5th place in the Premiership, one spot outside the Champions League circle.