Bolton had looked the more likely side after a tepid first half but a moment of magic from Ben Arfa turned the match on its head, leaving Bolton deep in relegation trouble and Newcastle dreaming of Champions League football.
It seemed an unlikely story after the first half. Such was the lack of chances at either end, the closest either side came to a goal came when Adam Bogdan punched Ben Arfa’s free kick straight into Sam Ricketts. The ball could have gone anywhere but instead deflected just behind for a corner.
A match that had taken so long to produce anything of note sprang to life at the start of the second half and it was Bolton with all the attacking impetus.
Great footwork from the lively Chris Eagles inside the Newcastle box gave him a shooting chance but Tim Krul saved brilliantly to keep the scores level.
Bolton continued to press and were nearly ahead moments later, Martin Petrov flashing a cross across the face of goal that evaded Darren Pratley’s outstretched boot by a matter of inches.
Krul came to the home side’s rescue again, denying Mark Davies at the far post when the midfielder perhaps should have done better.
Newcastle needed a moment of inspiration to turn the tide and Ben Arfa supplied it with one of the goals of the season. The Frenchman picked up the ball just inside his own half, turning Eagles before setting off on a sprint towards the Bolton goal. A burst of acceleration took him past David Wheater then Tim Ream before he slid the ball past the onrushing Bogdan for his fifth goal in the Premier League and his second of the season.
Ten minutes later, Newcastle put the game to bed. Shola Ameobi, on for Demba Ba, held off the challenge of Ream before delivering a pinpoint cross into the path of Cisse to side foot his 10th of the season.
Newcastle’s fifth triumph on the bounce leaves them level with fourth-placed Spurs on points following the Londoners’ loss to Norwich and in with a very realistic shout of Champions League football.
Bolton, however, are looking over their shoulders at the foot of the table. They remain one point clear of the drop zone, albeit with a superior goal difference to QPR, Blackburn and Wigan.