By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Managing Editor
At St. James' Park
Newcastle United 1 (Cisse 37)
Aston Villa 0
Papiss Cisse's 11th goal of the season helped Newcastle United bounce back to winning ways with a 1-0 victory over Aston Villa at St. James' Park.
The Senegalese front man netted eight minutes before half-time in the Barclays Premier League fixture, controlling and converting a right-wing centre from Daryl Janmaat.
The goal came somewhat against the run of play as, before then, Villa had created the better chances, with striker Christian Benteke a real threat as he went close on two occasions.
However, going in front gave United a visible lift and they were much improved in the second period, with Ryan Taylor twice drawing saves from Brad Guzan with trademark free-kicks.
Substitute Ayoze Perez also headed against the woodwork but a second goal was not needed as Newcastle picked up three important points.
A scrappy opening period saw Villa fashion a chance inside three minutes but Daryl Janmaat's timely intervention at the far post prevented Sinclair turning home a teasing Benteke cross.
United responded and Cisse took Janmaat's delivery on his chest inside the six-yard box and was set to pull the trigger when Alan Hutton prodded off his toe.
On 24 minutes, Benteke sidefooted a volley narrowly wide, having been picked out by Ashley Westwood's superb, diagonal pass, while he went even closer soon after.
As Newcastle failed to properly clear their lines from a quickly-taken free-kick, Mike Williamson's header looped up invitingly for the big Belgian, who didn't need a second invitation to let fly with a spectacular overhead kick that Tim Krul had to claw away.
Villa looked nothing like a team struggling at the wrong end of the table and opened the hosts up in the 35th minute with a fine, flowing move that ended with Krul smothering Sinclair's angled drive.
And two minutes later the visitors were made to pay for not taking their chances, when Cisse broke the deadlock with his 11th goal of the campaign.
Janmaat's cross from the right bounced through the Villa rearguard and landed right at the feet of Cisse, who had found a yard of space between Alan Hutton and Jores Okore.
The Senegalese striker took a touch and duly fired past Brad Guzan at the Leazes End.
Newcastle came out for the second half looking full of confidence and Cisse almost doubled his - and the team's advantage - when he connected with Ameobi's free-kick, only to nod wide.
And the visitors almost profited immediately, with Tom Cleverley sneaking into the box in that left-sided area but seeing his low strike well saved by the legs of Krul.
At the other end, Taylor twice drew saves from Guzan with trademark free-kicks, which the whole of a packed St. James' Park were willing to fly in.
And from the corner which followed the second of those, substitute Ayoze Perez was a lick of paint away from giving the hosts some much-needed breathing space.
Making a late run around the back, he connected with a deep corner that Guzan came and failed to collect, but saw his header strike the upright before being hacked clear.
With six minutes of time added on by referee Lee Mason, Villa threw everything they had at the hosts. However, United - superbly mashaled by captain Fabricio Coloccini - stood firm to pick up all three points and a much-needed clean sheet.
Newcastle United (4-4-2): Tim Krul; Daryl Janmaat, Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini (c), Massadio Haidara (Ryan Taylor 61); Gabriel Obertan (Yoan Gouffran 78), Moussa Sissoko, Mehdi Abeid, Sammy Ameobi; Emmanuel Riviere (Ayoze Perez 73), Papiss Cisse
Aston Villa (4-4-2): Brad Guzan; Alan Hutton, Jores Okore, Ciaran Clark, Matt Lowton (Leandro Bacuna 82); Tom Cleverley, Ashley Westwood, Fabian Delph (c), Scott Sinclair (Charles N'Zogbia 66); Christian Benteke, Gabriel Agbonlahor (Andreas Weimann 73)
Subs not used: Shay Given, Carlos Sanchez, Carles Gil, Jack Grealish
Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire)
Bookings: Newcastle - Williamson (53); Aston Villa - Hutton (26), Lowton (45), Agbonlahor (63), Clark (83), Cleverley (90)
Attendance: 51,573 (2,600 Aston Villa)