By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Managing Editor
At St. James' Park
Newcastle United 1 (Mitrovic 32)
West Bromwich Albion 0
Aleksandar Mitrovic's fifth goal of the season lifted Newcastle United out of the Barclays Premier League relegation zone, as they beat West Bromwich Albion 1-0 on Saturday.
The Serbian striker netted just past the half-hour mark at St. James' Park to secure all three points, and it was no less than the Magpies deserved ,after dominating large parts of the contest.
In fact, the margin of triumph should have been even greater but Baggies goalkeeper Ben Foster denied home debutatnat Andros Townsend, Georginio Wijnaldum, Moussa Sissoko and Mitrovic at different points.
Townsend also struck the post while Cheick Tiote had a long-range strike controversially ruled out by an offside flag. However, United were not to be deterred and, in the 32nd minute, Mitrovic latched on to Jonjo Shelvey's through ball before finishing superbly.
The result saw Newcastle record back-to-back home victories and helped them climb out of the relegation zone, and they will look to build on it when they travel to Chelsea next weekend.
United roared out of the traps and Georginio Wijnaldum saw an effort blocked by Gareth McAuley inside the opening exchanges, shortly before goalkeeper Ben Foster came to the Baggies' rescue with two fine saves in the space of 30 seconds.
First, former Watford man Foster flew full-length to his left to beat away Townsend's drive that was heading for the back of the Leazes End net. And then, as West Brom failed to deal with the resulting corner, he somehow kept out a point blank Mitrovic shot with outstanding agility.
Albion's first opening came in the 17th minute although Gardner, having been brought down by Rolando Aarons right on the edge of the area, could only curl his free-kick into the wall.
But the hosts were soon back on the front foot. Shelvey fired a long-range strike straight into the grateful grasp of Foster, and just before the half-hour mark they thought they had deservedly broken the deadlock.
When Daryl Janmaat's low 25-yarder was blocked the ball fell invitingly for Tiote, who lashed home a shot which appeared to get a deflection from a Baggies player on its way past Foster.
As United celebrated, the visitors appealed for offside against a body or two blocking Foster's view and, following a lengthy consultation with his assistant, referee Lee Mason ruled out the goal.
Rather than feel sorry for themselves, Newcastle took less than two minutes to score again - and there was no doubt whatsoever about this one.
Shelvey's threaded through-ball was inch-perfect to disect the West Brom defence Mitrovic was on to it in a flash, bearing down on goal before applying a composed finish when one-on-one with the keeper.
Albion made a double change at half-time, introducing Saido Berahino and Alex Pritchard in place of Sandro and Craig Gardner, but it failed to stem the tide of pressure from the hosts.
With less than four minutes of the second half played, Steven Taylor strode forward and found Sissoko, who used his strength to lever James McClean out of the picture and drive goalwards. The French midfielder set himself and pulled the trigger, but was denied by a brilliant, last-ditch block from centre-back Jonas Olsson.
In the 62nd minute there was another fine piece of defending but at the other end, as the Baggies launched a rare attack. As Newcastle struggled to clear a high ball into the area, it fell kindly to Berahino, but Taylor threw his body in the way of the forward's snap-shot to avert the danger.
But normal service was soon resumed as Wijnaldum came inches away from doubling United's lead, lofting a header onto the roof of the net, before Mitrovic nodded powerfully straight at Foster.
It was one-way traffic and Townsend almost capped his home debut with a goal on 69 minutes, turning the West Brom defence inside out on the edge of the area before planting a low, curling drive against the foot of the upright.
Sissoko was next to try his luck, cutting in off the left flank, exchanging passes with Wijnaldum but sidefooting inches wide of the far post.
As time ticked away, Foster saved from Wijnaldum, while Mitrovic was centimetres away from connecting with Janmaat's low ball across the six-yard box. But a second goal was not needed as Newcastle claimed three huge points.
Newcastle United (4-2-3-1): Rob Elliot; Daryl Janmaat, Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini (c), Rolando Aarons; Cheick Tiote, Jonjo Shelvey (Henri Saivet 90); Moussa Sissoko, Georginio Wijnaldum, Andros Townsend (Ayoze Perez 88); Aleksandar Mitrovic
Subs not used: Karl Darlow, Liam Gibson, Callum Williams, Dan Barlaser, Seydou Doumbia
West Bromwich Albion (4-2-3-1): Ben Foster; James Chester, Gareth McAuley, Jonas Olsson, Craig Dawson; Claudio Yacob, Sandro (Saido Berahino 46); Craig Gardner (Alex Pritchard 46), Darren Fletcher (c), James McClean; Victor Anichebe (Salomon Rondon 74)
Subs not used: Boaz Myhill, Sebastien Pocognoli, Stephane Sessegnon, Rickie Lambert
Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire)
Bookings: Newcastle United - none; West Bromwich Albion - McAuley (48), Chester (63), Olsson (83)
Attendance: 50,152 (1,250 West Brom)