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Wearing the No9 shirt at Newcastle United would weigh heavily on some shoulders but Papiss CissÃ© appears liberated in the famous jersey. On another hugely satisfying day for Alan Pardew, his Â£10m signing from Freiburg in January scored twice to take his tally to a remarkable nine in eight Premier League appearances as Newcastle picked up a fourth successive top-flight victory for the first time in six years to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League.
Both goals were brilliantly created by Yohan Cabaye, who got a richly deserved pat on the back from CissÃ© when the Frenchman was substituted 17 minutes from time. By that point Swansea had run out of ideas after dominating the game for so long only to succumb to the ultimate sucker punch. CissÃ©’s second goal, an outrageous chip, took the wind out of Swansea’s sails and left Brendan Rodgers and his players to reflect on a third successive Premier League defeat for the first time.
Newcastle are on a roll of a very different kind and seemingly determined to ensure the battle for third and fourth places in the Premier League is not confined to the capital. This win lifted them to fifth place, above Chelsea and within two points of Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal.
Their run-in is not particularly easy â€“ they have to go to Chelsea and Everton and also host Manchester City in their final home game â€“ but, if CissÃ© continues in this extraordinary form, Newcastle supporters could be forgiven for thinking that anything is possible.
“We’ve won four on the trot now and it’s nice to win them in different ways,” said Pardew, whose only disappointment was the hamstring injury picked up by Cheik TiotÃ© in view of Monday’s home game against Bolton. “We’ve got a guy in red hot form, in CissÃ©, and that can set you apart. He was the difference between the two sides. I didn’t think we were brilliant, I thought we were a little bit flat, but CissÃ© was electric.”
The 26-year-old has never looked back since he scored on his debut against Aston Villa as a substitute. Pardew said: “You do need a little bit of luck when you come into the Premier League and he got that great first goal and that’s set him on a road full of confidence.
“But this is a guy who has got a fantastic CV. You look at his record in the Bundesliga, in a team that was struggling, and it’s not a mystery, it’s not like someone we’ve plucked from the middle of Borneo. He’s a player with pedigree.”
CissÃ©’s first goal here came in the fifth minute and was dispatched into the far corner of the net with aplomb, after Cabaye’s splendid first-time pass had cut between Ashley Williams and Steven Caulker, the Swansea central defenders. It was a polished strike, although nothing like as special as the second, which was dinked over Michel Vorm and into the top corner from a tight angle and with Williams closing him down. “I actually thought it had gone over the bar, it sort of hovered in the air,” Pardew said. “I think he put a bit of backspin on that one. It was a bit of a Masters shot.”
It was also completely against the run of play. Swansea, as has been seen on so many occasions this season, controlled possession for much of the game with their neat one- and two-touch passing and fluid movement. Yet the cutting edge, which Newcastle had through CissÃ©, was badly missing.
Gylfi Sigurdsson, Swansea’s most dangerous player, squandered a decent chance inside the third minute and later drew a fine save from Tim Krul with a dipping 25-yard shot that the keeper did well to turn behind. After the interval another Sigurdsson effort was deflected inches wide and Joe Allen saw his shot ricochet off Mike Williamson, causing Krul to make an untidy, but ultimately effective, save.
It was that sort of day for Swansea. “This season was a real test of our talent and I think we’ve passed that test,” Rodgers said. “And I think this season was going to be a real test of our courage and mentality and I feel we have passed that as well. What we have now got to make sure in the last six games is that we finish the season off and it doesn’t just fizzle out.”