By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Managing Editor
At the Hawthorns
West Bromwich Albion 1 (Berahino 87pen)
Newcastle United 0
Ten-man Newcastle United suffered defeat in their opening game of 2014 as they went down to a late penalty away at West Bromwich Albion.
Sadio Berahino's spot-kick with three minutes left on the clock separated the sides at the Hawthorns in torrential conditions.
And it was harsh on the Magpies, who were forced to play almost half-an-hour a man short following Mathieu Debuchy's straight red card for a two-footed lunge on Claudio Yacob.
Yohan Cabaye was United's biggest goal threat, while at the other end Nicolas Anelka, Chris Brunt, Liam Ridgwell, Jonas Olsson and Morgan Amalfitano all went close.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, the visitors were defending superbly and it looked as if the game was heading for a stalemate.
But Mr Mason pointed to the spot when Matej Vydra tumbled under Tim Krul's challenge, and Berahino did the honours.
United made a bright, dominant start but it was the hosts who conjured the opening shot of the afternoon on six minutes.
However, Morgan Amalfitano's low effort from the edge of the box lacked power and was simple for Tim Krul.
Albion again went close in the 16th minute, only to be denied by a superb piece of defending by Mike Williamson.
When Liam Ridgewell delivered from the left, it looked as though his low centre just needed to be tapped in by Stephane Sessegnon at the far post. However, Williamson had other ideas, stretching to get a toe on the ball and divert it inches away from the Baggies forward.
It took nearly half an hour for Newcastle's first serious attempt of the afternoon, but Cabaye drilled wide after Williamson had risen at the far post to head a deep Debuchy cross down into his path.
West Brom's response was immediate and centre-back Jonas Olsson nodded inches off target from a corner, before Chris Brunt also failed to test Krul with his head when completely unmarked.
With half-time approaching, Cabaye curled a free-kick straight into the wall but - once again - the home side went up the other end and should have broken the deadlock.
Amalfitano tricked his way past Yoan Gouffran on the right before cutting the ball back into the six-yard box for Anelka.
Somehow though, the veteran striker put his effort over the top, under pressure from Fabricio Coloccini.
Hatem Ben Arfa was introduced from the substitutes' bench at the break and the change almost sparked the visitors into life, with Remy inches away from his 11th goal of the season when he cut in from the left and curled goalwards.
But Newcastle's task was made that much tougher when Debuchy saw red for a lunge on Claudio Yacob in the 62nd minutes.
The French defender won the ball but, with both feet off the floor and referee Lee Mason just a couple of yards away, Debuchy was immediately given his marching orders.
Unsurprisingly, Albion began piling on the pressure, with Krul having to save well from Anelka and replacement Saido Berahino.
With eight minutes remaining, Ridgewell missed an absolute sitter. Brunt and Berahino combined down the left, and when the latter drilled in a low cross, Ridgewell astonishingly sidefooted well wide from around three yards.
And in the 87th minute the hosts finally made the breakthrough, from the penalty spot.
Substitute Matej Vydra raced into the penalty area and hit the deck under Krul's challenge. Mr Mason promptly pointed to the spot and Berahino did the honours, tucking the penalty past the goalkeeper.
West Bromwich Albion (4-2-3-1): Ben Foster; Billy Jones (Saido Berahino 46), Gareth McAuley, Jonas Olsson, Liam Ridgewell; Youssouf Mulumbu, Caludio Yacob; Morgan Amalfitano, Stephane Sessegnon (Matej Vydra 77), Chris Brunt (c); Nicolas Anelka (Zoltan Gera 88)
Subs not used: Boaz Myhill, Diego Lugano, James Morrison, Shane Long
Newcastle United (4-3-3): Tim Krul; Mathieu Debuchy, Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini (c) (Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa 65), Davide Santon; Moussa Sissoko, Cheick Tiote, Yohan Cabaye; Yoan Gouffran (Hatem Ben Arfa 46), Shola Ameobi (Massadio Haidara 76), Loic Remy
Referee: Lee Mason (Greater Manchester)
Bookings: West Brom - none; Newcastle - none
Sending off: West Brom - none; Newcastle - Debuchy (62)