Newcastle show no mercy to nine-man Stoke
Newcastle's outstanding form continued on Thursday as they racked up their seventh win in nine games by beating nine-man Stoke 5-1 at St James Park for what was their 200th home win in the Premier League.
Stoke, who came into the game unbeaten in four, had led early on only for the match to be turned on its head as Glen Whelan and Marc Wilson were sent off within minutes of each other in the first-half while manager Mark Hughes also was sent to the stands by referee Martin Atkinson.
Newcastle's victory -- all their goals scored by non English players leaving it a year to the day since an Englishman James Perch scored for them against Manchester United -- leaves them in sixth but just a point off Everton, who lost 1-0 to Sunderland on Thursday.
Stoke took the lead in the 29th minute through a superb individual effort by Oussama Assaidi.
Assaidi, on loan from Liverpool, came in off the left wing, beat one man with a cheeky feint, and lashed a fierce shot into the top far hand corner leaving Tim Krul well beaten.
However, that was as good as it got for Stoke as they did their best to hand Newcastle the three points.
First Ireland international midfielder Whelan was sent off for a second bookable offence, a dreadful foul on Yohan Cabaye in the 39th minute.
Hughes also received his marching orders from Atkinson for his reaction to the decision.
Three minutes later Wilson joined Whelan in the dressing room when he pulled back Cabaye's French compatriot Loic Remy and as the last defender Atkinson had no option but to send him off and award a penalty.
However, Remy failed to slot home the penalty, his soft effort was easily saved by Danish 'keeper Thomas Sorensen.
Remy, though, redeemed himself almost immediately as another of Newcastle's French imports Hatem Ben Arfa found him unmarked in the penalty area and the former Marseille striker slotted the ball home.
If Stoke hoped Newcastle would be in a Christmas mood after the break they were soon to be disabused.
Ben Arfa took possession, although some thought the ball went out, got to the byline and his cross eventually fell to Yoan Gouffran, who fired home for his sixth Premier League goal of the season.
Ben Arfa was totally justifying his recall to the starting side -- he came on as a substitute in the win over Crystal Palace last weekend and scored from the penalty spot -- and went close to a deserved goal for himself but his long range shot came back off the post.
It mattered little as Remy added his second and Newcastle's third almost immediately, heading home from close range for his 10th Premier League goal of the season.
Ben Arfa produced another sublime piece of individual skill to beat three Stoke players and then unleash a shot but again it was denied by the woodwork.
There was no such bad fortune for the equally outstanding Cabaye, whose side-footed effort from outside the penalty area soared into the top corner leaving Sorensen with no chance for his fifth goal of the campaign.
The hosts weren't finished yet as Ben Arfa went down in the penalty area under a challenge by Erik Pieters and Atkinson pointed to the penalty spot -- Papiss Cisse succeeding where Remy failed by converting it to score his first goal in the Premier League this season.