Belfast Telegraph

Stoke hammer Magpies

Stoke scored four goals for the first time in a Barclays Premier League game as they crushed hapless Newcastle 4-0.

A week after securing a place in the FA Cup semi-finals, Tony Pulis' side cruised past the Tynesiders with a clinical display which moved them above their opponents and into the top half of the table.

Jon Walters opened the scoring after 28 minutes and the floodgates opened after the break with Jermaine Pennant, Danny Higginbotham and Ricardo Fuller completing the rout. Newcastle have taken just one point from their last three games to slip within four points of the relegation zone.

Stoke took the lead when Newcastle failed to deal with a cross from Pennant and Walters sent a header over Steve Harper for his eighth goal of the season.

However Newcastle made a spirited response and Joey Barton fired a free-kick narrowly over the bar.

The visitors kept up the pressure and Kevin Nolan carved out a good opportunity moments later. His cross took a deflection and looped over Asmir Begovic but the keeper managed to divert the ball away.

Stoke extended their lead just a minute into the second half thanks to a string of defensive errors by Newcastle.

Harper failed to clear properly and Matthew Etherington eventually swung a cross in from the left. The ball took a deflection and Sol Campbell back-headed it but only into the path of Pennant, who made no mistake.

Three minutes later Stoke made it 3-0 with Newcastle again all at sea at the back. Higginbotham drove a free-kick straight through the wall and past Harper who was rooted to the spot.

Stoke completed a convincing victory in stoppage time when substitute Fuller got on the end of a pass from Walters to thump a shot beyond Harper.

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