Hatem Ben Arfa inspires Toon past Villa

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Yoan Gouffran climbed off the bench to score the winner for Newcastle United, as they edged out Aston Villa 2-1 at Villa Park.

The substitute sealed a second straight victory in the Barclays Premier League for Alan Pardew’s side; six minutes after Christian Benteke had cancelled out man-of-the-match Hatem Ben Arfa’s earlier strike.

Newcastle were the better of the sides as they showed more creativity and desire going forward, while Villa relied too much on the long ball and their movement off the ball was often non-existent as they slipped to a third consecutive defeat.

The visitors started brightly and went ahead on 18 minutes. Loic Remy made a good run down the left-hand side, and picked out his unmarked French compatriot in the area to sweep home his second goal of the season.

Paul Lambert’s side wasted a great opportunity to draw level just before half-time following the best one-touch move of the game. Andreas Weimann broke away from the Newcastle defence for the first time, but pulled his shot well wide of the target much to the dismay of the home support.

Villa appeared rejuvenated at the start of the second half and the Holte End was rocking as they went in search of an equaliser.

Antonio Luna spurned a good chance when he opted to cross instead of drill the ball towards goal, while Gabriel Agbonlahor somehow missed the target from six yards out from Weimann’s cross.

New signing Libor Kozak was sent on for his debut, but it was his strike partner who made the immediate impact following the change. Benteke climbed highest to nod home, after Tim Krul completely misjudged Ashley Westwood’s corner.

The contest was only level for six minutes though, as Ben Arfa was once again allowed to drive at the defence and cut inside onto his left foot. His shot was well parried by Brad Guzan, but straight into the path of Gouffran who made no mistake from the rebound.

Seven points from four games is not a bad return for the Toon considering their pre-season troubles and lack of activity in the transfer window, while the Claret-and-Blues’ opening day win at Arsenal is now a distant memory.

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Hatem Ben Arfa
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