Ben Arfa stunner saves Toon

Hatem Ben Arfa scored a stunning equaliser to earn Newcastle a 1-1 draw against Aston Villa at St James' Park on Sunday.

Last Updated: 03/09/12 at 09:19 Post Comment

Ben Arfa: Fantastic strike to equalise

Ben Arfa: Fantastic strike to equalise

Free £50 bet

Daily Offers and Promotions, sign up for a free £50 matched bet

The France international blasted an unstoppable long-range shot past keeper Brad Guzan with 59 minutes gone to cancel out Ciaran Clark's first-half opener on a day when the Magpies were all at sea for long periods.

Villa more than made a game of it with Tim Krul having to produce good saves to deny Darren Bent and Andreas Weimann, although Guzan hacked a 29th-minute Papiss Cisse shot off the line and claw out Yohan Cabaye's injury-time free-kick in an eventful contest.

But Newcastle were at times a shadow of the side which mixed it with the Barclays Premier League's big boys last season, much to the frustration of a crowd of 48,245.

Stephen Ireland and Darren Bent both might have won it at the death for the visitors, but the visitors eventually had to settle for a draw.

Villa arrived sitting at the foot of the table without a point from their first two games and with former Newcastle stalwart Shay Given relegated to a seat on the bench as a result.

But if the Magpies thought the visitors were there for the taking, the belief proved horribly mistaken during the opening 45 minutes.

Paul Lambert's men were up for the fight from the off and although Karim El Ahmadi in particular was perhaps a little over-zealous at times, they knocked the hosts out of their stride.

It was a strangely disjointed performance from Newcastle, who continue to miss Cheick Tiote's influence in the middle of the park.

The service from wide-men Ben Arfa and Jonas Gutierrez was decidedly sub-standard, and with front two Cisse and Demba Ba misfiring, Given's replacement Guzan was rarely extended with last season's swagger having seemingly deserted Pardew's team.

Sunderland old boy Bent served warning of Villa's intent with 19 minutes gone when he forced Krul into save, with Fabricio Coloccini blocking Weimann's follow-up, and the keeper had to deny Bent again seconds later.

But the home side did not heed the warning and were made to pay three minutes later when Barry Bannan was allowed time and space to cross from the left for Clark to head past the helpless Krul.

Steven Taylor bundled a Cabaye free-kick over the bar as the Magpies attempted to respond, but the home side were almost level with 29 minutes gone.

Ben Arfa's right-wing corner was overhit, but Ba managed to pluck it out of the air and drill the ball back across goal, where Cisse's shot seemed destined for the back of the net before Guzan somehow managed to keep it out with his foot.

Midfielder Vurnon Anita fired into the side-netting after Gutierrez had recycled the resulting corner to him on the edge of the box, but the Dutchman found himself having to change roles eight minutes later as Newcastle's decision not to sign a defender during the transfer widow returned to haunt them.

Danny Simpson went down clutching his hamstring and with Ryan Taylor and James Perch already injured, Anita had to drop in at full-back.

Ba fired across goal seconds later as the Magpies finished the half strongly, but without troubling Guzan to any great extent.

Villa returned not only determined to hang on to their advantage, but to extend it if at all possible, and as the Magpies continued to labour, they looked the more likely to score.

As the home fans grew increasingly restless, Newcastle responded and Ben Arfa might have done better when he headed Anita's 52-minute cross straight at Guzan.

Pardew had switched to a 4-3-3 formation before the break in an attempt to get Ben Arfa further forward, and the ploy eventually paid off with 59 minutes gone.

The Frenchman picked up possession on the left and cut inside before unleashing a searing drive which flew high past Guzan and into the top corner.

In the meantime, Krul had to pluck Ireland's well-struck shot out of the air and then had to get down well to deny Weimann with Villa still very much in the game.

Ben Arfa had a chance to fire the Magpies ahead with 23 minutes remaining, but curled his free-kick harmlessly over the bar.

Ba went close with a looping header from substitute Gael Bigirimana's 74th-minute cross, but Ireland passed up a glorious opportunity to win it six minutes later when he screwed his shot wide from 16 yards.

Bent was handed a similarly promising opening with six minutes left, but Bigirimana's timely intervention kept him at bay before Guzan palmed out Cabaye's last-ditch attempt.

Free £50 bet

Daily Offers and Promotions, sign up for a free £50 matched bet

Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

H

e made his power play to try and get Sheikhy to raise his wages or trade him to PSG. PSG were probably not interested and he is stuck with no cake and no vacation. @Jay_D> Surely you jest about FFP being real, right? All Platini is doing is making billionaries pay measly fines, so he and his cronies can get rich. If a fool can pay 50 mil for David Luiz, he will happily pay some fine to UEFA. FFP has failed as for it to succeed UEFA had to take it...

Synergy
Toure: I am staying with City

G

uess we can expect Toure's explanation of his behaviour around the same time Pete Townshend publishes his book then.

ceeps
Toure: I am staying with City

D

amn you Yaya, don't scare me like that! I only ate the icing. I didn't eat the soft and scrumptious middle - I will buy you another cake!

MCFC87
Toure: I am staying with City

Footer 365

Transfer News: Hull City begin talks to sign Renne defender Jean-Armel Kana-Biyik

Hull City are in talks to sign defender Jean-Armel Kana-Biyik from French club Rennes, according to Sky sources.

Dunga replaces Luiz Felipe Scolari as manager of Brazil after World Cup semi-final exit

Brazil have appointed Dunga as their new national team manager following the resignation of Luiz Felipe Scolari.

Champions League: Celtic beat KR Reykjavic 4-0 at Murrayfield

Celtic eased into the second qualifying round of the Champions League with a 4-0 victory over KR Reykjavik.

Mail Box

Anyone But Rooney. Or Baines. Or Hart.

There isn't a great deal of excitement in the Mailbox regarding England's potential new captain, but we have good stuff on Gerrard's development and a one club man team...

Goodbye Patrice And Farewell Steven...

Man United fans say a fond farewell to Patrice Evra in the mailbox while there are also thoughts on Steven Gerrard's retirement from England duty. Plus, some rare cricket bantz...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property