Belfast Telegraph

Newcastle goal hero Cissé has better record than Shearer

By Martin Hardy

It is 17 years since Tony Yeboah hit a football so hard it might have popped. Instead it flew past David James' outstretched arms and into the psyche of every follower of English football. Whether Papiss Cissé has delivered such a moment will only be known in years to come, but in the 94th minute, he delivered something similarly breathtaking, with the outside of his foot, humiliating Petr Cech with its movement, its power and its accuracy.

There was disbelief that the Newcastle forward had tried the shot, so late in the game as they chased a truly historic victory. They only led by a goal and there were a further six minutes of injury time left when he took a chested pass from Shola Ameobi and struck gold with the outside of his foot. There was a genuine moment, however brief, of "did that actually happen?" but by then the entire Newcastle coaching staff had tumbled forward from their dugout, and Cisse was wheeling away towards a set of supporters who had not even heard of him three months ago. Here come the stats: 13 goals in 12 games (11 starts). Eleven goals in his last eight games. A record to surpass even Alan Shearer's barnstorming start at Blackburn (12 in 12) and superior to Shearer's record when he went back home (12 in his first 17 league games). When Newcastle paid £9 million for a Senegalese forward at the end of January, no one realised they might just have landed a golden ticket to the Champions League. They may well have eliminated the Champions League finalists from the fight for the top four last night; and on their own turf, too. Cissé had struck a pretty decent first before he eclipsed himself.

John Anderson, an uncompromising defender in his day, was in the press box at Stamford Bridge as a co-commentator for Radio Newcastle last night. In 1986, he was a Newcastle player. He was in the team the last time the visitors from Tyneside returned from West London with three points, more than a quarter of a century ago.

Contextualising last night's heroic victory is important. At certain grounds Newcastle have been rubbish for as long as most people can remember: Anfield, Old Trafford, Highbury and most certainly Stamford Bridge. There are some statistics that football clubs have to bury if they are to ever progress, and Newcastle had never won a Premier League game on this ground before yesterday's 18th attempt.

Removing such failure is huge and puts this result into an even brighter perspective. It is seven wins from Newcastle's last eight games after this victory. They are the team who keep coming. Last night it was about bravery, rugged defending, organisation and then the occasional touch of genuine quality that has given them such force. Or two. As was the case last night. Both by a breathtaking centre-forward. Papiss Cissé is, as the song suggests, scoring when he wants and, in the process, dismantling English football's meritocracy, as well as Newcastle's history.

Belfast Telegraph


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