Cisse strike downs Canaries
Striker notches 11th minute winner to hand Magpies crucial victory
Last Updated: 18/03/12 7:06pm
A first-half Papiss Cisse goal proved the difference as Newcastle beat Norwich to cement their sixth place in the Premier League.
The goal came in the 11th minute when Jonas Gutierrez crossed from the left and Cisse stole a march on Zak Whitbread to score into the top right corner.
On another day, Cisse - who scored his third goal in four home outings - might have left with the match ball after passing up a series of glorious chances to add to his tally.
His ability to convert was partly down to the resilience of Canaries goalkeeper John Ruddy, who produced a string of fine saves to keep the Magpies at bay and his side in with a fighting chance.
Norwich improved after the break and Tim Krul also had to be at his best to deny Anthony Pilkington and then made a fine reaction save to push over a close-range Whitbread header.
But the Magpies held on to record their first league win in five attempts to draw to within two points of fifth-placed Chelsea, having played a game more.
The home side ran out knowing a return of just two points from the last 12 on offer had to increase markedly if they were to maintain their challenge for European football, and with manager Alan Pardew having set them a target of five wins from their final 10 games to keep themselves in with a chance.
They were well on the way to securing the first of those victories when the half-time whistle sounded, but they might have been out of sight.
January signing Cisse produced a finish in keeping with the near £10million fee the Magpies paid for him with 11 minutes gone when he got ahead of defender Whitbread to drill Gutierrez's cross instinctively past the helpless Ruddy.
But had he been as lethal with the other chances which came his way during a lively opening 45 minutes, the points could have been banked long before the end of the game.
There were less than two minutes on the clock when Yohan Cabaye played the Senegal international in for the first time, and his cheeky lob needed to be plucked out of the air by the advancing Ruddy.
Kyle Naughton made a vital block to prevent Cisse's 39th-minute volley from ending up in the back of the net, but he should have doubled his tally two minutes later when he ran on to Gutierrez's sumptuous pass, but could not beat the keeper one on one.
In the meantime, Ruddy had pulled off a fine reaction save to claw away Demba Ba's effort as it threatened to creep inside his far post, and Elliott Bennett survived an appeal for a penalty after Danny Guthrie's cross hit his hand.
However, the Magpies, who started with Gutierrez at left-back and James Perch protecting the back four, did not have things all their own way.
The Canaries, as they have done for much of the first campaign back in the top flight to date, moved the ball confidently and created three chances of note of their own.
Jonny Howson only just failed to capitalise on Mike Williamson's 19th-minute error before Pilkington drilled a long-range effort into Krul's midriff.
But they could have gone in level had Andrew Surman hit the target rather than firing wildly across the face of goal in the final minute of the half.
Hatem Ben Arfa might have eased Newcastle further clear within seconds of the restart when he ran on to Whitbread's weak clearing header, but although he made good progress into the penalty area, he screwed his right-foot shot harmlessly wide.
Cisse tested Ruddy once again, this time from distance, after running on to Ba's 50th-minute lay-off, and the keeper needed two attempts to claim his shot.
But Norwich were in no mood to lie down and accept their fate, and the home side needed Krul to preserve their lead twice within seconds.
The Holland international first blocked Pilkington's shot at his near post and then tipped Whitbread's header over with the visitors pushing hard for an equaliser.
Ba fired wide from distance as Newcastle responded, but with frustration mounting on the terraces, Pardew replaced Ben Arfa with Davide Santon, in the process freeing up Gutierrez, who had started at left-back, to return to his accustomed midfield role.Newcastle managed to exert a measure of control as the clock ran down with the physical presence of substitute Shola Ameobi helping to relieve some of the pressure, although Steve Morison might have levelled at the death, but scuffed his shot straight at Krul under pressure from Fabricio Coloccini.
|Newcastle United||Team Statistics||Norwich City|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|6||Shots on Target||4|
|6||Shots off Target||5|
|45.2||1st Half Poss.||54.8|
|43.4||2nd Half Poss.||56.6|
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|15||West Bromwich Albion||15||15|
|17||West Ham United||15||13|