Newcastle survive fightback
Newcastle United resisted a valiant second-half fightback from Aston Villa to claim a first away win of the season with a 2-1 triumph at Villa Park.
The visitors controlled the first half and deservedly led 2-0 at the break thanks to fine goals from Papiss Cisse and Yohan Cabaye.
Villa responded brilliantly in the second period, but although Christian Benteke pulled a goal back from the penalty spot, they were unable to force an equaliser and now drop into the bottom three.
Newcastle handed debuts to Yoan Gouffran and Moussa Sissoko and signalled their intentions with a high-tempo start in which they dominated both territory and possession.
Their energy was rewarded after 19 minutes, when Sissoko split the Villa defence with a divine threaded pass to Cisse, who took a touch before beating Brad Guzan with a low, right-footed shot.
The goal stunned Villa into life and although they remained second best, Charles N'Zogbia almost drew them level with a superb left-footed half-volley from 22 yards that cannoned back off the post.
But they soon found themselves 2-0 down after a moment of brilliance from Cabaye, who swept a brilliantly struck right-footed half-volley into the top corner from 25 yards.
Villa made two changes at the break, sending on Gabriel Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann, and twice went close to pulling a goal back within seconds of the restart.
Weimann had the first, turning and letting a right-foot shot fly from 12 yards that Tim Krul did well to save, before Benteke drew a similarly smart stop from the Newcastle goalkeeper with a left-footer from just inside the box.
Villa's tails were suddenly up and they deservedly got on the score-sheet through Benteke's penalty after Agbonlahor went down easily in the box under a challenge from Mathieu Debuchy.
The hosts continued to push and it took another fine stop from Krul to deny Weimann's low drive after a fine cross-field pass from Benteke.
With Newcastle digging in, Villa forced one final chance, when Nathan Baker met a corner unmarked but saw his point-blank header blocked on the line.