Demba Ba claimed his second hat-trick of the season to move Newcastle up to third in the Premier League table, after his side seen off Stoke 3-1 at the Britannia. Ba, who so nearly joined the Potters before moving to West Ham last January, now has eight goals to his name since joining the Magpies on a free transfer this summer. The win moves Alan Pardew’s side above Chelsea into third, just a point behind Manchester United and six behind leaders Man City, two sides the Geordies have to play in the next three weeks. It was also the first time Stoke have been beaten at home all season, another scalp for Pardew to enjoy as he rides the crest of his biggest managerial wave. Newcastle looked every bit a top-four side on this display, combining some heroic defending with lethal counter-attacks and comfortable possession. Even the absence of Cheick Tiote in midfield wasn’t enough to put the Geordies off their stride, with Danny Guthrie playing excellent in the centre with Yohan Cabaye. However, the star of the show was undoubtedly Ba, whose perfect hat-trick left the Potters clueless and confused. Their long-ball, rough-em-up tactics weren’t working against the masked Steven Taylor and Fabricio Coloccini and their defence, affected by the loss of Ryan Shawcross early on, had no answer to Ba’s pace and power. Ba opened the scoring after 12 minutes, when Tim Krul’s huge goal kick was flicked into the channel by Leon Best. The flying Gabriel Obertan latched onto the pass easily and picked out an inch-perfect cross for Ba to head home. The tasteless home fans then lambasted the Senegal striker with abuse after he was close to joining them when he left Hoffenheim ten months ago. However, the boo’s weren’t affecting the in-form striker and he could have had two more before half-time. Asmir Begovic had to be in fine form to rush off his line twice to deny Ba the chance to double his tally for the evening. Despite the Bosnian goalkeeper’s heroics, you could tell this wasn’t an evening where Ba could be contained for long and he soon got his second goal from Best’s scuffed shot. Coloccini sauntered forward from the back before angling a ball through to the Irish striker and his chest and volley trickled across the box where Ba was waiting to apply the poacher’s finish. With Marc Wilson also going off with injury in the first half, Tony Pulis couldn’t make an attacking change until the second half, when he brought on former Sunderland striker Kenwyne Jones to try and get something out of the watertight Toon defence. The change gave the Potters some momentum and it led to a goal when Ba tried to help out in the other box but only managed to haul down Peter Crouch and concede a penalty. Jon Walters smashed it past Krul and it looked like a nervy ending was in store for the Magpies. But referee Mike Dean allowed Newcastle the chance to put the tie beyond any doubt when he awarded a penalty to the visitors for a foul on Best by Robert Huth. Ryan Taylor left the spot-kick to the hat-trick hunting Ba, and the Senegal man tucked it away to leave the Potters wondering what they could have had when they refused the chance to sign him. Tony Pulis described Ba’s knee injury as “a ticking time bomb” when he failed a medical at the Britannia. It’s going off at the minute, Tony, but it’s packed with goals.