Newcastle 3-0 Stoke

By Jonathan JurejkoBBC Sport
Newcastle's Yohan Cabaye
Newcastle's Yohan Cabaye

Newcastle United continued their charge towards Champions League qualification with a convincing Premier League victory over mid-table Stoke City.

Yohan Cabaye nodded Newcastle ahead from close range before Papiss Cisse slid in the Frenchman's exquisite pass.

Earlier, Jon Walters blazed Stoke's best chance well over from six yards.

Cabaye sealed victory with a curling 20-yard strike as the Magpies climbed into the top four at the expense of Tottenham, who lost 1-0 at QPR.

Newcastle were 11 points adrift of Spurs following their 5-0 mauling at the hands of the north London club in February.

But a sixth successive Premier League win puts them on the cusp of European football next season as they surged 15 points clear of seventh-placed Everton, who have five games left to play.

The top six are assured of continental competition and after making a statement of intent against Stoke, it would take a dramatic collapse for Newcastle to surrender their place.

Two of their final four games include a trip to Chelsea, one of their rivals for a top-four finish, and a home match against title-chasing Manchester City as they aim to clinch Champions League qualification for the first time since 2003.

Newcastle have put themselves within touching distance after a fantastic run which has been spearheaded by the goals of Senegal striker Cisse.

Pardew buoyed by "strong" Newcastle

The 26-year-old has proved a revelation since his £10m move from Freiburg, with his 11 goals in 10 matches hauling Newcastle above Spurs, who went down to Adel Taarabt's goal in Saturday's late kick-off at Loftus Road.

French winger Hatem Ben Arfa has also taken plenty of plaudits recently and he was the architect of the opening goal with some superb trickery on the left touchline.

He skipped past Marc Wilson before clipping a delicious cross into the Stoke danger zone, where Cisse's sharp movement allowed him to escape marker Robert Huth and send a far-post header crashing against the crossbar. And Cabaye was waiting to pounce on the rebound with a close range header.

The midfielder turned provider moments later, his exquisite reverse pass perfectly weighted for Cisse to race on to and slide past Stoke keeper Asmir Begovic.

Cabaye pulled all the strings in a dominant home performance and capped a majestic individual display with a sumptuous first-time finish into the far corner for his second goal of the afternoon.

Newcastle had failed to penetrate a typically organised Stoke backline in the opening stages but, once Cabaye and then Cisse breached their defence, Newcastle oozed confidence and controlled the game with a swagger expected of a top-four team.

It could have been very different had Stoke striker Walters not spooned Peter Crouch's knockdown high over the bar when well positioned in the home six-yard box in the game's first opportunity.

But chances were rare for the lowest scorers in the Premier League against a Newcastle defence which claimed a fourth straight clean sheet.

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew: "The Champions League is really a possibility. We're not going to hide from that or make some stupid cliches about we're not going to do it.

Pulis blames poor Stoke finishing

"We're right in there and we go to Wigan, that's going to be a tough game. We will see where we are then.

"I know a result like this today will pipe through to the Tottenham dressing room and put pressure on them. There's no pressure on us - we're just bobbling along.

"Our quality really shone through - some great goals and great interplay. There's a lot of confidence in the dressing room, we've got a really nice feeling in there and you can see that on the pitch."

Stoke manager Tony Pulis: "We had a lot of chances today. Jon Walters, who I think the world of, could have come out of the game scoring a hat-trick.

"But the difference in both boxes was they hit the target and we never. From being very much in the game we were 2-0 behind after two very poor goals.

"At the start of the second half we thought if we could get that goal it would have been game on. But the third goal was very poor again and that gave them the momentum to go on.

"You've got to give our players credit - they kept going and kept going. I don't think it was that bad a performance."

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