By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Club Reporter
At the Hacker-Pschoor-Arena, Landsberg am Lech, Germany
Newcastle United 1 (Ba 33)
Demba Ba's first half header was enough to earn Newcastle a 1-0 friendly victory over Monaco on Monday night.
The Senegal international, who topped United's scoring charts during the 2011/12 campaign with 16 goals, nodded home from close range to capitalise on some hesitation in the French side's defence.
And it was no more than the Magpies deserved on an evening in which they looked comfortable for large spells and created a number of good chances.
Shola Ameobi, Mehdi Abeid, Gabriel Obertan and Ba could all have given the scoreline more gloss, but manager Alan Pardew will be delighted with the win and more minutes from a very competitive friendly fixture.
United should have been ahead inside 45 seconds. When Romain Amalfitano's corner wasn't cleared properly, Davide Santon collected the loose ball, strode forward and slipped it right into the path of Demba Ba.
The front man drove the ball across the danger zone and Shola Ameobi met it with an inventive back-heel, only to see his effort strike the foot of the post and rebound straight into the grateful keeper's arms.
Monaco's first chance arrived in the ninth minute courtesy of striker Toure. The dangerous forward connected with Nabil Dirar's corner from the right but, under pressure, could only volley well over the top.
The Magpies were soon back on the attack and Abeid flashed a left-footed strike from distance well off target, but they almost gifted their French opponents the opener.
Santon, playing at right-back, attempted to head the ball back to Steve Harper, but sold his keeper short, allowing Yannick Ferreira Carrasco to nip in. The left winger lobbed an effort over the on-rushing Harper but it dropped agonisingly inches the wrong side of the upright, much to Newcastle's relief.
Harper was then called upon to make an outstanding stop on 26 minutes, denying Toure from almost point-blank range. He didn't know too much about it, but the veteran's face was what prevented Toure from edging Monaco in front with a fierce shot from Carrasco's delivery.
But it was United who broke the deadlock in the 33rd minute through Ba. Danny Simpson's free-kick to the far post was headed across the face of goal by Mike Williamson, and when Monaco failed to clear their lines, Ba rose highest above keeper Daniel Subasic to nod in from a couple of yards.
With half-time approaching Toure was again Monaco's dangerman, nodding a corner down and wide, but Newcastle reached the break unscathed and could have been further in front, but Subasic denied Shola Ameobi after the big man had been fed by a great ball by brother Sammy.
Simpson reverted to his familiar right-back role, with Tavernier and Perch taking up the centre-back berths. Santon switched to the left side and Jonas Gutierrez moved forward to partner Gael Bigirimana in the middle of the park.
Maybe that slightly unsettled United as, within four minutes of the restart, Monaco struck the woodwork. Valere Germain rose above Perch to power a header goalwards, only to see it strike the angle of post and bar with Harper soundly beaten.
The substitutions continued, as Ryan Taylor, Cheick Tiote, Gabriel Obertan and Dan Gosling all joined the fray, but it was Monaco who continued to carve out the openings, but Harper comfortably dealt with Carrasco's 25-yard drive on this occasion.
On 71 minutes, Ba wasn't too far away from grabbing his second of the night and probably putting the game out of sight. He met Ryan Taylor's corner at the far post, but could only nod wide this time rather than making Subasic work.
Substitute Gabriel Obertan should have put the seal on it with time ticking away, when he raced through one-on-one, but Subasic made himself big and kept out the winger's effort, with Dan Gosling unable to force home the rebound.
Newcastle United (4-4-2): Steve Harper; Davide Santon (Ryan Taylor 56), Danny Simpson, Mike Williamson (James Perch 46), Jonas Gutierrez; Romain Amalfitano (Gabriel Obertan 63), Mehdi Abeid (Haris Vuckic 46), Gael Bigirimana (Cheick Tiote 63), Sammy Ameobi (James Tavernier 46); Shola Ameobi (c) (Dan Gosling 63), Demba Ba (Sylvain Marveaux 79)
Subs not used: Rob Elliot
Monaco (4-4-2): Daniel Subasic; Eric Marester (Jeremy Labor 86), Andreas Wolf (c) (Adriano Da Silva 63), Andrea Raggi (Gary Kagelmacher 63), Layvin Kurzawa (Dennis Appiah 63); Nabil Dirar (Emir Bajrami 75), Nampalys Mendy, Gary Coulibaly (Delvin N'Dinga 86), Yannick Ferreira Carrasco (Tristan Dingome 75); Ibrahima Toure (Valentin Eysseric, 63), Valere Germain (Nacer Barazite 63)
Subs not used: Martin Sourzac, Marc-Aurele Caillard, Kevin Diaz, Stephane Dumont, Dominique Pandor, Jakob Poulsen, Alexandros Tziolis, Nicaise Salli Edgar