Newcastle 3-1 Blackburn

By Emlyn BegleyBBC Sport
Demba Ba of Newcastle scores his team's opening goal past Scott Dann of Blackburn
Ba's opener was his first goal for Newcastle

Demba Ba scored his first hat-trick in English football as Newcastle deservedly beat Blackburn.

The summer signing held off Scott Dann to lash home his first Magpies goal in the first half and made it 2-0 with a header three minutes later.

Junior Hoilett gave Rovers hope with a 16-yard strike from Martin Olsson's cross but Ba sealed it when his header eluded three players to find the net.

Rovers' misery was compounded when Olsson was sent off for two bookings.

Senegal international Ba becomes the fourth player to score a Premier League hat-trick for the Magpies since their return to the top flight last season.

Newcastle were magnificent - Pardew

And he deserved his standing ovation when he was replaced by Hatem Ben Arfa, whose appearance was his first in the league in almost a year after a double leg fracture and then an ankle injury.

The result ensured Newcastle's best Premier League run in nine years, having now gone nine games unbeaten. But Blackburn, who had won on their last five trips to St James' Park, are now in the relegation zone.

Ba had failed to score in his first five appearances for the Magpies but he started brightly and had the first chance, firing over from 25 yards after a surging run.

Hoilett was a rare bright spark for Rovers but his mazy run was eventually halted by Ryan Taylor as he surged into the box and the defender again denied the Canadian at the back post from Olsson's ball.

But Newcastle deserved their opener, Fabricio Coloccini sending Leon Best down the left wing where he crossed for Ba, who turned and fired a fierce shot past Rovers keeper Paul Robinson.

And moments later he doubled their lead when Jason Lowe failed to clear Steven Taylor's header across goal and Ba pounced.

But against the run of play, Blackburn were right back in it when Olsson's cross found Hoilett, who got the ball under control and lashed it into the roof of the net.

Magpies summer signing Gabriel Obertan - enjoying his fresh lease of life, having made just four Premier League starts during two years at Manchester United - then almost capped off a fine counter-attack just before half-time.

Goalkeeper Tim Krul found Yohan Cabaye, whose ball found the Frenchman surging forward, but his shot was just off target.

The first chance of the second half was potentially Blackburn's lifeline, but they did not take it, Olsson hitting the bar with a sliding effort. And moments later it was game over.

Kean disputes third Newcastle goal

Ba headed Cheik Tiote's ball towards goal, and strike partner Best, defender Dann and goalkeeper Robinson all failed to get a touch and it went in, despite protest from Rovers who felt Best fouled Dann, who went off injured, and Olsson was booked for complaining to the referee.

Even then, Olsson had another chance to get Rovers back into it but he shinned the ball wide from Michel Salgado's cross and the game was over when he clipped Leon Best and was sent off.

Ben Arfa replaced Ba and he almost set up Best straight away, but Lowe stopped his pullback.

Newcastle were rarely threatened in the final 20 minutes as Obertan, Best and Cabaye all had chances to increase their lead, and the 3-1 win ensures the unbeaten Magpies maintain their place in the top four.

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew:

"We controlled the game and I think they fact they went down to 10 men doesn't do us justice. We were magnificent all day. We could have won by more than three.

"Leon Best was as good as Demba Ba and he could have scored two goals.

"With Ramadan, Ba had a difficult, slow start and he had a couple of cameos to get him up to speed. But he helped us control midfield today.

"Peter Lovenkrands should have come on but it was a good game for Ben Arfa, the crowd were in good voice. He deserves that. He's got some work to do to get back into the team.

"We have spent a lot of money on our squad. I wanted to change our style of play - I thought our passing and movement was excellent."

Blackburn boss Steve Kean:

"The third goal was a big turning point. We felt there was a foul on Scott Dann in the goal.

"Olsson tells the referee that there was a foul on the defender and gets booked. Salgado and Givet were both injured but had to stay on the pitch.

"If that decision had gone the other way, we could have got something from the game."

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