Newcastle moved nine points clear of the Premier League relegation zone as a late strike from Papiss Cisse earned them a 2-1 win over Stoke.
Jonathan Walters put Stoke ahead from the penalty spot, but that effort was quickly cancelled out with a spectacular free-kick from Yohan Cabaye before Cisse clinched the points with a cool finish from close range at St James’ Park on Sunday.
After a quiet start it was Newcastle who began to take control of proceedings, forcing the play with some neat passing. Chances were few and far between, however, with Cabaye’s long-range effort the best opportunity of the opening stages.
Although it was the hosts who carried the greater threat, Stoke felt they should have been handed a chance to take the lead when they were denied a penalty after Davide Santon looked to have brought down Ryan Shotton just inside the area.
The Magpies were undeterred by that scare, and continued to dictate matters, Asmir Begovic called into action to make a comfortable stop from Santon’s low drive before Yoan Gouffran fired following an excellent long ball from Cabaye.
French international Cabaye was at the heart of most Newcastle attacks, and it was he who went close again with a shot from the edge of the area which was deflected wide of the post.
Despite Newcastle’s endeavour, they were unable to break the deadlock before the interval. The half-time stalemate owed much to Stoke’s defensive resilience, and the visitors had to be on their guard again as Moussa Sissoko broke through, only to hit his shot wide under considerable duress from Begovic.
Alan Pardew’s men pushed forward with increasing intent as the half dragged on, but it was the visitors who finally broke the deadlock as Cheick Tiote hacked down Walters, leaving referee Andre Marriner with no option other than to point to the spot.
The Irish international duly stepped up and dispatched the resulting spot-kick with consummate ease.
It was an advantage that lasted a matter of minutes however, as Newcastle quickly levelled with a superb curling free kick from Cabaye after Begovic had felled Gouffran just outside the penalty area.
The goal gave Newcastle renewed energy, but in spite of the mounting pressure of the Stoke goal it looked as if the game was meandering to a draw.
However, it was Cisse who would have the final say, as he latched on an excellent through-ball from Sylvain Marveaux before lashing past Begovic to push Pardew’s side three points closer to survival.