Cisse's double lifts Newcastle to fifth
Senegal striker Papiss Demba Cisse kept Newcastle in the hunt for a top-four finish as his brilliant brace clinched a 2-0 win over Swansea at the Liberty Stadium today.
Cisse has proved an inspired signing by Newcastle boss Alan Pardew, who paid £10million to capture the unheralded forward from German club Freiburg in the January transfer window, and he underlined his growing value by firing the Magpies into fifth place.
Newcastle are now just two points behind fourth-placed Tottenham after the 26-year-old struck once in each half to take his goal tally to nine in eight matches.
If Cisse can maintain that kind of prolific form, Newcastle, who have won their last four matches, could still clinch a surprise place in the UEFA Champions League. They could do with a favour from local rivals Sunderland, who host Spurs on Saturday, while sixth placed Chelsea would go back above Newcastle with a win against Wigan this weekend.
"It's a fantastic win for us. It wasn't a brilliant performance but we have quality in the right areas," Pardew told Sky Sports. "That's nine goals now for Papiss. He has been brilliant and he was our best player here.
"He has got a fantastic pedigree. This was a boy that scored goals in the Bundesliga. There is no mystery about him," he went on. "We are lucky to have him. He was the difference between the two teams."
Swansea boss Brendan Rodgers had sprung a surprise by leaving out leading scorers Danny Graham and Scott Sinclair. Dyer almost made an immediate impact as he robbed Demba Ba to set up Gylfi Sigurdsson, but the on-loan Hoffenheim midfielder failed to take his chance.
And Newcastle took advantage of that escape to open the scoring in the fifth minute. Yohan Cabaye's perfectly-weighted pass split the Swansea defence and allowed Cisse to surge clear. Swansea goalkeeper Michel Vorm got a hand to Cisse's low effort, but couldn't stop it flashing into the net.
Swansea had beaten Manchester City and Arsenal at home this season, but they struggled to break down Newcastle's well-drilled defence. Pardew's men were mostly content to sit back and protect their lead for the rest of the half.
Joe Allen fired straight at Tim Krul, while a powerful Sigurdsson drive forced the Newcastle goalkeeper into a fine save.
Pardew introduced Ryan Taylor at the interval in place of Cheick Tiote, but it was Swansea who had the momentum early in the second half. Dyer twisted and turned on the edge of the area to tee up Sigurdsson, whose low shot was deflected just wide.
Newcastle rode their luck moments later when Allen's drive flicked off Mike Williamson, struck Krul and deflected to safety. Caulker then headed straight at Krul, while Newcastle lost Ba after the forward appeared to pick up an ankle injury.
Rodgers sent on Graham and Sinclair as Swansea pushed for an equaliser. But Cisse sealed the points in the 69th minute with a stunning strike.
Cabaye's pass gave Cisse a glimpse of goal and he showed superb touch and impressive awareness to quickly control the ball before deftly chipping over Vorm high into the far corner.