By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Club Reporter
At The Hawthorns
West Bromwich Albion 1 (Long 52)
Newcastle United 3 (Cisse 6, 34; Ben Arfa 12)
An outstanding first half display secured Newcastle United a 3-1 win at West Bromwich Albion on Sunday afternoon.
Papiss Cisse bagged a brace, sandwiched either side of a Hatem Ben Arfa strike as the visitors ran riot at the Hawthorns before the break..
Cisse tapped home after just six minutes, shortly before Ben Arfa capped a stunning breakaway with an equally impressive finish. And Senegal international Cisse notched his second of the afternoon just past the half hour mark to give the Magpies a lead they fully deserved.
And although Baggies forward Shane Long capitalised on a defensive mix-up to pull one back early in the second period, United held firm to claim an important victory and move them past the 1,000 Premier League points barrier
West Brom's Youssouf Mulumbu fired a sighter inside the opening 40 seconds but, from 25 yards, was unable to keep his effort down.
However it was at the other end where either keeper was first called into action. Cisse sprung the offside trap with a run down the left flank, and after jinking past a challenge managed to deliver to the far post.
The hosts' defence managed to head clear but only as far as Demba Ba on the edge of the area, whose bouncing half-volley forced Ben Foster to tip over.
And from the resulting corner United stunned the hosts by making an early breakthrough. Again, the Baggies failed to properly deal with a ball into the box, and Jonas Gutierrez fed Ben Arfa wide on the left.
The French international played a low ball across the face of goal and Cisse was left with the simple task of side-footing home from inside the six-yard box for his fourth goal since arriving in January.
The home side were rattled, and Ben Arfa fired narrowly off target just before doubling United's advantage in the 12th minute.
It was as good a counter attack as you will see all season, turning defence into attack in a matter of seconds. Heading clear a West Brom free-kick deep inside their own area, the visitors broke at devastating pace, with Yohan Cabaye, Cisse and Ben Arfa all combining.
And, in a three-against-two situation, the latter came inside from the right touchline, breezed past a couple of challenges and tucked the ball past the despairing grasp of Foster.
James Morrison attempted to get the Baggies back in contention, but failed to test Tim Krul with a half-volley from distance, while Mulumbu headed Liam Ridgewell's centre narrowly over the top.
It was West Brom's best spell of the match, including a goal ruled out for offside, but on 34 minutes the visitors caught them cold and made it 3-0 thanks to that man Cisse again.
Ba and Ben Arfa played a lovely one-two on the left-side of the area, and although Ba was unable to get on the end of the cut-back, Cisse was well-placed to send a low shot into the back of the net in front of a couple of thousand vociferous Geordies.
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew was forced into a change at half-time, replacing captain Fabricio Coloccini with Davide Santon, meaning a switch to centre-half for James Perch.
And the reshuffled defence was given an immediate examination as first Morrison fired off target, before Mulumbu had an effort blocked to force a corner.
But the Magpies were always going to be dangerous on the break and Cisse could - and probably should - have sealed his hat-trick in the 50th minute. Set free by Cabaye, the former SC Freiburg man went one-on-one with Foster, but the keeper stayed big and produced an important stop for his side.
West Brom had made a couple of substitutions of their own at the break, one of which was long, and the Republic of Ireland international reduced the deficit seven minutes after the restart.
Marc-Antoine Fortune's long through ball looked easy for the United defence to deal with, but hesitation between Krul and Mike Williamson ended with the latter heading softly into the path of Long, who was left with the easiest of tap-ins.
But still the chances came for the visitors. Ben Arfa picked almost responded in style, picking up the ball on the halfway line and racing towards the edge of the area before seeing his low shot saved by the fingertips of Foster.
On 73 minutes, Cabaye curled a free-kick over the wall but also over the top, after Ba was felled 25 yards out. while the Baggies were dealt a blow soon after as Morrison hobbled off, leaving them with ten men having used all three of their substitutions.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, the hosts piled on late pressure in search of a grandstand finish, but Newcastle stood solid for a full seven minutes of added time to claim what could be a priceless win in their search for a Europa League spot.
West Bromwich Albion (4-5-1): Ben Foster; Billy Jones, Gareth McAuley, Jonas Olsson, Liam Ridgewell; Peter Odemwingie, Youssouf Mulumbu (Paul Scharner 74), James Morrison, Keith Andrews (Shane Long 46), Jerome Thomas (Chris Brunt 46); Marc-Antoine Fortune
Subs not used: Luke Daniels, Nicky Shorey, Craig Dawson, Simon Cox
Newcastle United (4-4-2): Tim Krul; Danny Simpson, Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini (c) (Davide Santon 46), James Perch; Hatem Ben Arfa (Shola Ameobi 75) , Yohan Cabaye, Danny Guthrie, Jonas Gutierrez; Demba Ba, Papiss Cisse (Shane Ferguson 79)
Subs not used: Rob Elliot, Mehdi Abeid, Dan Gosling, Haris Vuckic
Referee: Chris Foy (Lancashire)