By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Club Reporter
At the Sports Direct Arena
Newcastle United 1 (Best 37)
Queens Park Rangers 0
A first half Leon Best strike maintained Newcastle's 100 per cent record in 2012, as they recorded a 1-0 victory over Queens Park Rangers at the Sports Direct Arena.
With half-time approaching, the front man turned neatly and applied a superb finish to break the deadlock in a match where United found themselves on the back foot for large parts.
Rangers created plenty of chances - particularly in the first half - but were unable to turn their dominance into goals in Mark Hughes' first game in charge.
The visitors applied some early pressure and top scorer Heidar Helguson tested Tim Krul inside the opening minute with a 20-yard drive, while Akos Buzsaky also stung the palms of the Dutch stopper from distance.
Rangers were well on top and came closest when Shaun Wright-Phillips latched onto a poor clearance on the edge of the box and fired in a shot which had Krul beaten, but clipped the top of the bar on its way over.
And Newcastle were dealt a huge blow in the 20th minute. Yohan Cabaye was caught late by Shaun Derry in the middle of the park, earning the R's man a yellow card, and Cabaye was unable to continue - stretchered off with what looked like an ankle injury.
Hatem Ben Arfa was introduced in his place, and took up a spot on the right wing, with Ryan Taylor moving inside.
But QPR continued to press and on the half hour mark Jay Bothroyd picked his spot from just ouside the area, and curled an effort inches wide of the far post.
It took 34 minutes for the Magpies to threaten. A neat passing move found Taylor in space 25 yards out, and the former Wigan man saw a fine strike tipped away for a corner by keeper Paddy Kenny.
That seemd to finally spark the hosts into life, and seconds later Ben Arfa fired high and wide from a similar position.
And they broke the deadlock in the 37th minute thanks to Best's fourth goal of the season. A long ball up to Shola Ameobi was chested down into the path of Taylor, and when it reached Best he turned Luke Young inside out before slotting home into the far corner.
The second half started in exactly the same way as the first did - with Krul having to get down well to deny the visitors, this time Wright-Phillips. Minutes later they had another opportunity as Helguson headed into the path of Jay Bothroyd, but the striker failed to hit the target.
On 53 minutes, Bothroyd did much better - racing on to Jamie Mackie's through ball before firing towards the near post, but Krul was alert to parry to safety.
As the clock ticked past the hour, Newcastle had a huge penalty shout when Best's header appeared to strike the arm of Buzsaky as the R's man tried to control with his chest. But referee Chris Foy was having none of it, much to the anger of manager Alan Pardew and his coaching staff.
By this stage clear cut chances were few and far between, but United got the chance to double their advantage in the 69th minute. QPR keeper Kenny came racing out of his box to clear a ball for a throw-in, which Ben Arfa took quickly.
Jonas Gutierrez received the ball, and with the stopper still racing back to his line, turned and lobbed an effort instantly goalwards. However, thankfully for the away side, Danny Gabbidon was on hand to head clear.
Rangers threw everything they had at United in the closing stages, but the home defence held firm for yet another clean sheet, and three points which lifted them up to sixth place in the Premier League.
Newcastle United (4-4-2): Tim Krul; Danny Simpson, Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini (c), Davide Santon; Ryan Taylor (Dan Gosling 82), Danny Guthrie, Yohan Cabaye (Hatem Ben Arfa 25), Jonas Gutierrez; Shola Ameobi, Leon Best (James Perch 77)
Subs not used: Rob Elliot, Shane Ferguson, Mehdi Abeid, Gabriel Obertan
Queens Park Rangers (4-4-2): Paddy Kenny; Luke Young, Danny Gabbidon, Anton Ferdinand (c), Clint Hill; Jamie Mackie, Shaun Derry, Akos Buzsaky (Federico Macheda 76), Shaun Wright-Phillips; Heidar Helguson (Tommy Smith 65), Jay Bothroyd
Subs not used: Radek Cerny, Bradley Orr, Fitz Hall, Hogan Ephraim, DJ Campbell
Referee: Chris Foy (Lancashire)
Attendance: 49,865 (1,300 QPR)