They say bad luck comes in threes and that proved to be the case last night, when Villa suffered their third defeat in a week.
Pardew’s troubled Magpies drew first blood in the 18th minute: Sissoko appeared to have been fouled in midfield but emerged with the ball and found Cisse had gotten free of Baker. Two touches later, the ball was in the back of Guzan’s net.
A hapless Villa offered no real threat and allowed Cabaye and Sissoko to control the midfield. When Vlaar cleared a Gutierrez cross, Cabaye was waiting and one touch allowed him to send a fine volley into the far corner to cement the visitors’ lead in the 31st minute.
Villa were not so much on the back as lame for the remainder of the first half, one booming shot from N’Zogbia aside, and were treated to a chorus of boos on the half-time whistle.
Lambert had no real option but to gamble and Bent and Bennett made way for Agbonlahor and Weimann at the start of the all-important second half. Within seconds, it looked like the ‘gamble’ would pay off as Weimann had a shot on goal. It didn’t find the net but seemed to reawaken Villa, with Benteke going for goal too.
As the atmosphere changed, Debussy was deemed to have fouled Agbonlahor and Benteke stepped up to roll home the ensuing penalty.
With Villa in the ascendency, it took a fine save from Krul to deny Weimann the equaliser. Although the boys in claret and blue worked hard, the points ultimately eluded them. Villa fans, buoyed by the team’s second half performance, were in a rather forgiving mood and the atmosphere at the end was supportive.
Lambert described the team’s performance as “night and day” and, unfortunately, the night ended with his side back in the danger zone. He has urged the players to “fight like hell”, which is apt because it’ll have to be one hell of a fight to escape the drop now.