Papiss Cisse

By Dan Sheridan - Newcastle United Managing Editor

Throughout the summer we have been reviewing the 2011/12 campaign - a remarkable season which will live long in the memory of every Newcastle fan. The sixth, and final, instalment covers May, starting with a couple of Papiss Cissé stunners at Chelsea and ending in Europa League qualification...



As May arrived, Newcastle were all but guaranteed a European place ahead of their last three fixtures of the season - two of which were against top six opposition.

On the second day of the month, United headed to the capital to face a Chelsea side that had overcome the mighty Barcelona the previous week to book their place in the Champions League final.

They also had an FA Cup final appearance against Liverpool to look forward to three days later, but nothing could prepare them for what unfolded at Stamford Bridge on what was a memorable night for the Toon faithful.

Forward Papiss Cissé had already made headlines in spectacular fashion, with eight goals in his previous seven games, but even by his standards he raised the bar to incredible heights in West London.

First, the Senegalese number nine opened the scoring with a precision finish, flicking the ball up on the edge of the box after good work from Davide Santon before volleying into the top corner.

But if his first against the Blues was top class, his second deep into injury-time would make waves across the footballing world as one of the greatest goals in Premier League history.

Substitute Ryan Taylor's throw-in was chested into Cissé's path by Shola Ameobi, and with nothing to lose, the striker hit an incredible out-swinging drive that curved from left to right before flying in over Petr Cech's head.

The goal had to be seen to be believed, and soon had pundits purring the length and breadth of the country before being named as the Goal of the Season by BBC's Match of the Day.

Four days after that 2-0 win, Manchester City arrived on Tyneside with the destiny of the title still to be decided after an unlikely sequence of results that had seen their neighbours United blow an eight point lead.

All of which meant a win for Roberto Mancini's men was imperative if they were to take the race to final day.

And they duly delivered, scoring twice in the last 20 minutes through Yaya Touré, but not before the Magpies gave them a real run for their money, prompting City captain Vincent Kompany to Tweet: "Don't let the 'big four' fool you, Newcastle are comfortably amongst the best in the league."

Before the final game of the campaign, Liverpool's midweek win over Chelsea at Anfield secured fifth-place for Newcastle - their best top flight finish since the 2003/04 season under Sir Bobby Robson.

And though the final day saw Alan Pardew's class of 2012 lose 3-1 at Everton, nothing could dampen the feeling of elation as a place in the Europa League was confirmed.

To crown what had been an incredible season, captain Fabricio Coloccini was named in the PFA's Team of the Season and Pardew's efforts were rewarded twice, with the Toon boss landing the Barclays Premier League and League Managers Association's Manager of the Year awards.

Season tickets for the 2012/13 campaign are now on sale and are the only way to guarantee your seat for every home game.

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