By Tom Easterby
At St. James' Park
Newcastle United 1 (Obertan 71)
Leicester City 0
A second-half strike from Gabriel Obertan gave Newcastle United their first Barclays Premier League win of the season over Leicester City this afternoon.
The 25-year-old winger completed a fine counter-attacking move with just under 20 minutes remaining to earn all three points for the hosts and ensure it was a miserbale return to Tyneside for former Magpies caretaker manager Nigel Pearson and his newly-promoted charges.
In what was a relatively even first 45 minutes, both sides had chances to open the scoring, with Newcastle's Fabricio Coloccini and the visitors' Matty James both squandering glorious opportunities before the break.
Alan Pardew's team began purposefully, pushing a five-man Leicester midfield back into their own half. Moussa Sissoko's earned a corner from Paul Konchesky in the fifth minute, but Jack Colback's teasing inswinger was nodded away by Liam Moore.
Just a minute later, Sissoko's dangerous cross - whipped in after a one-two with Obertan - was cleared as United made a threatening start.
The first real opening of the afternoon fell at the feet of captain Coloccini in the eighth minute. Following a cleared Esteban Cambiasso corner, Obertan outmuscled Marc Albrighton on the right before driving forward and feeding Sissoko. The Frenchman's cutback, however, was turned wide by the left foot of the Argentine, who had made a rare foray into the Foxes' box.
City, with leading scorer Leonardo Ulloa ploughing a lone furrow up front, threatened only sporadically in what was becoming a hard-fought encounter, with full-back Ritchie De Laet's numerous surges down the right flank halted by Paul Dummett.
The Magpies left-back then had an opportunity to threaten himself, sending his 20-yard drive straight into the arms of Kasper Schmeichel before Nigel Pearson's men carved out their first chance as the troublesome Ulloa fed Matty James, whose sidefooted effort was comfortably collected by Tim Krul.
Yoan Gouffran dragged a shot wide after Moore went into Martin Atkinson's notebook for scything down Obertan as United retained their early intensity but, with 15 minutes until he break, Leicester began to pose a few questions, with Ulloa close to connecting with a De Laet centre and Albrighton's high, hanging cross well held by Krul under what Atkinson deemed to be unlawful pressure from Danny Drinkwater.
Then, with the Foxes firmly on the front foot, Albrighton whipped in another cross, this time from the left, which sailed over Krul's head and thudded against the angle of post and bar and Papiss Cisse responded with a low shot that Moore deflected over his own crossbar as the two sides went in level at the midway point.
After a rather pedestrian start to the second half, Senegalese striker Cisse - who only returned from international duty on Friday - sent in a teasing, curling cross after latching on to a Moore clearance which cannoned off De Laet, but the chance was cleared. Then Sissoko tried his luck, firing goalwards from just outside the box after Vurnon Anita's neat lay-off, but his shot was deflected just wide with Schmeichel graspng at thin air.
Cisse, who looked sharp, was then guilty of wasting the most cler-cut opening of the match. Pouncing on a calamitous backpass from Konchesky, the 29-year-old rounded Schmeichel and looked certain to score but, seemingly off-balance, he could only find the sidenetting. Colback stung the Dane's palms with a free-kick after a Moore handball just minutes later as United continued to push, but a goal was not yet forthcoming.
Pearson threw on forwards Jamie Vardy and David Nugent just before the hour-mark as they sought to offer support to the often-isolated Ulloa and Pardew sent on young Spaniard Ayoze Perez in place of Anita but it was City who looked brighter immediately after the changes, with the pacy Vardy scampering away from Daryl Janmaat and delivering for Ulloa, but the former Fleetwood Town man's flighted ball into the penalty area was too long.
With two strong-running strikers now on the field, the Foxes seemed to carry a greater offensive threat but, after Leicester wasted a corner, United broke with Cisse and Obertan. The former fed the latter on the left and the Frenchman cut inside two challenges and slammed his right-footed shot low beyond the reach of Schmeichel to send a 50,000-plus Geordie crowd into raptures.
Leicester, though, refused to lie down and Vardy flicked a Nugent cross well wide in front of the Gallowgate as they tried to find a late leveller. Drinkwater saw his piledriver parried by Krul after Newcastle failed to clear substitute Anthony Knockaert's corner and, at the other end, Sissoko let fly with vemon but Schmeichel held it.
Fresh off the bench, Perez jinked down the right and crossed for Cisse, whose downward header forced the keeper into another save with four minutes remaining but, despite the narrow scoreline, it was a deserved, hard-earned and much-needed victory for United.
Newcastle United (4-2-3-1): Tim Krul; Daryl Janmaat, Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini (c), Paul Dummett (Massadio Haidara 72); Vurnon Anita (Ayoze Perez 59), Jack Colback; Gabriel Obertan, Moussa Sissoko, Yoan Gouffran (Remy Cabella 90); Papiss Cisse
Leicester City (4-5-1): Kasper Schmeichel; Ritchie De Laet, Wes Morgan (c), Liam Moore, Paul Konchesky; Marc Albrighton (Jamie Vardy 56), Esteban Cambiasso (Anthony Knockaert 79), Matty James, Danny Drinkwater, Jeffrey Schlupp (David Nugent 56); Leonardo Ulloa
Subs not used: Ben Hamer, Dean Hammond, Andy King, Martin Wasilewski
Referee: Martin Atkinson (Yorkshire)
Bookings: Newcastle - none, Leicester - Moore (22), De Laet (28) Ulloa (34)