Magpies brush Bordeaux aside
Newcastle United went top of Group D in the Europa League with a comfortable 3-0 home win over Bordeaux on Thursday night.
And Papiss Cisse reminded the Toon Army of his quality with an impressive goal in the demolition of the French outfit.
The Senegal international produced a trademark sumptuous 49th-minute finish to kill off the Frenchmen as the Magpies powered their way to the top of Group D with their first win in front of a delighted crowd of 30,987.
Shola Ameobi had set Alan Pardew's side on their way with his 13th European goal following good work by Girondins old boy Gabriel Obertan, and Brazilian defender Henrique's 40th-minute own goal left the visitors in deep trouble.
Cisse, who belatedly opened his season's account at Manchester United last week, ensured that the points remained on Tyneside with the second half only four minutes old and Newcastle saw out time with the minimum of fuss.
It proved a sobering evening for Francis Gillot's men, who had not lost in 17 games in all competitions since April 8 but have now lost on all five of their visits to England.
The visitors arrived with high expectations after trouncing Club Brugge 4-0 last month and Pardew had voiced the opinion before the game that Bordeaux were arguably the strongest team in the group. However, opposite number Gillot said the same about the Magpies.
Newcastle's starting line-up was the strongest Pardew had fielded in the competition to date, although he still made seven changes from the 11 men who started at Reading at the weekend with one eye on Manchester United's visit to Tyneside on Sunday.
There was little to choose between the sides early on as Yohan Cabaye reminded his compatriots of his talent, while Czech playmaker Jaroslav Plasil pulled the strings for the visitors.
Indeed, after Cabaye had whipped an early shot across the face of goal the Girondins should have taken the lead when Plasil crossed from the left for Ludovic Obraniak to head high and wide when he might have done significantly better.
Rob Elliot needed to make a smart 15th-minute save from Yoan Gouffran - but the home side took the lead seconds later in impressive fashion.
Cabaye played an inviting pass out to Obertan on the left and he carved his way into the box past Mariano and then Henrique to put the ball on a plate for Ameobi at the far post.
The visitors responded in determined fashion with midfielder Ludovik Sane glancing a header straight at Elliot and then forcing the goalkeeper to dive to his left to parry a 40-yard thunderbolt.
In the meantime, sensing Bordeaux were starting to gain control, Pardew altered the 4-3-3 formation with which he had started to a more conventional 4-4-2, which brought Cisse further infield, and Newcastle immediately had a more compact shape.
The contest remained evenly balanced, but it tipped heavily in the home side's favour with five minutes of the half remaining.
Ameobi slid the ball into the fit-again Danny Simpson's path as the right-back overlapped and when he drilled a cross into the box, Henrique could not resist the temptation to get his toe to it, succeeding only in turning it past keeper Cedric Carrasso and into his own net.
Carrasso came to his side's rescue three minutes later when he blocked Vurnon Anita's close-range effort after Cisse had played him in, and the Magpies left the pitch at the break knowing the three points were all but in their grasp.
Pardew was forced to make a change at the break when he had to replace Elliot, who had been struggling towards the end of the first half, with Steve Harper.
Gillot withdrew Plasil and Obraniak to send on Landry N'Guemo and Cheick Diabate with the game rapidly slipping away from his team and Bordeaux might have been back in it had a combination of Harper and the post not kept out Henri Saivet's cheeky 48th-minute backheel.
However, the game was effectively over within seconds. The ball found its way to Shane Ferguson on the left and his cross was scooped expertly past Carrasso and in off the foot of the post by Cisse.
Sunderland old boy David Bellion might have reduced the deficit 16 minutes from time when he got the benefit of what looked like a generous offside decision, but Harper refused to be beaten.