Battling Magpies delight Pardew

PA Sport
Alan Pardew

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Alan Pardew

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew praised the battling qualities of his players after they re-ignited their bid for European football with a first win in five Barclays Premier League games.

January signing Papiss Cisse scored the only goal with a superb 11th-minute strike to edge out Norwich and put the Magpies five points clear of seventh-placed Liverpool and just two shy of Chelsea in fifth.

"[Owner] Mike Ashley said to me after the Sunderland game that it was fantastic theatre and he thoroughly enjoyed it. Well, there wasn't much theatre today, but what there was was a real professionalism on the pitch," Pardew said.

"If I had come here as a coach or a manager watching that game, you would have to say both teams put in a full stint and stopped the other playing a little bit. The flair players maybe could have offered a little bit more 'je ne sais quoi' today, but my goodness, it was a real battle, and it's always nice to win a battle."

A game in which the visitors gave as good as they got for long periods was ultimately settled by Cisse's strike, his third in four home outings for the club. He might have claimed the match ball by half-time after twice being denied by goalkeeper John Ruddy, who also produced a fine save to prevent Demba Ba from adding to his 16 goals for the season.

However, Norwich, whose neat inter-play left the Magpies chasing shadows at times, created more than enough opportunities to capitalise on the Magpies' profligacy, although could not take any of them.

That was in part due to the efforts of Tim Krul, who pulled off good saves to keep out Anthony Pilkington and Zak Whitbread in quick succession after the break. Steve Morison might have snatched a point at the death, but mis-hit his shot straight at the Dutchman as Newcastle held out to keep their unlikely charge for Europe on track.

Norwich manager Paul Lambert left Tyneside feeling he and his players should be doing so with something to show for their efforts, but far from deflated. He said: "I think our play merited something. I am disappointed to lose, like anybody, but I am not disappointed with the way we played.

"We came here and took the game to them against a team that is playing very well themselves. I am disappointed to lose, but performance-wise, it was very good."

Asked if he is confident the Canaries will accumulate the remaining points they need to secure a second season in the top flight, Lambert said: "I always am, always am. We have got a very good lead and we will be fine. I have got a good group of lads and I trust them. I have said we will win more games than not. I have got great trust in them."

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