A clinical attacking performance from Newcastle United ensured West Bromwich Albion were swept aside at the Hawthorns, with Hatem Ben Arfa at the centre of it all. The French winger was instrumental in everything good about Alan Pardew’s side, as his goal complimented a brace from Papiss Cisse to send Newcastle eight points clear of seventh placed Liverpool.

The visitors – clad in their bright orange change strip – made a flying start to proceedings, thanks largely in part to their quality front trio. Ben Arfa, Demba Ba and Cisse all looked like causing problems from the first whistle and the Baggies’ back line couldn’t cope with the three-pronged attacks reigning down on them.

It took just five minutes for Newcastle to take the lead. Unsurprisingly, it involved the enigmatic Ben Arfa. After a corner broke down, Jonas Gutierrez found the Frenchman with a delicious weighted pass and Ben Arfa easily picked out Cisse who tapped home his first of the afternoon.

West Brom tried to respond with characteristically good possession, but ultimately no real quality in the final third. James Morrison and Jerome Thomas tried to force the issue, but the clumsy Marc-Antoine Fortune’s mistimed runs meant many of the Baggies’ attacks ended in an offside decision.

The Geordies’ seemed comfortable letting the home side have possession, safe in the knowledge that they weren’t carrying much goal threat and their theory paid off before long. A cross was cleared and Ben Arfa started the rapid counter attack, combining with Danny Guthrie before sprinting away and finding Cisse. The Senegal striker then found Ben Arfa again, before the former Marseille man cut inside Jonas Olsson and fired home left-footed, giving Ben Foster no chance.

West Brom continued with their patient build up and as a result, never really tested Tim Krul in Newcastle’s goal. The closest the Dutchman came to making a save was when Morrison’s sweet volley flashed wide after Keith Andrews had neatly chested into the former Middlesbrough man’s path.

Newcastle’s game plan was evident though, as they continued to rely on the front three’s counter attacking threat. Just after the half hour, it was clear why as Ben Arfa once again broke away to leave the Baggies defending desperately. Newcastle had the quality to punish though, as Ba backheeled into Ben Arfa’s path and the winger cut across the box to find Cisse, who converted his second of the game to make it 3-0 at half time to the high-flying Magpies.

Roy Hodgson changed things at half-time and brought on Shane Long and Chris Brunt, in an attempt to give the Baggies a much needed attacking boost. The move clearly worked, with Long’s pace causing problems in the makeshift Newcastle defence, after Fabricio Coloccini had gone off at the break with a hamstring injury.

The second half began at breakneck speed, with Hodgson’s side desperate to find a way back into the match and attacking with the added threat of Long. Newcastle took time to adjust to the loss of Coloccini and James Morrison’s sliced effort signalled the start of the Baggies’ attempted comeback. Youssouf Mulumbu fired a goal bound shot which Williamson done well to block, before Newcastle had a chance on the counter attack, but Cisse couldn’t beat Foster with the game at his mercy.

The home side looked more dangerous though, and Mulumbu’s seemingly harmless punt over the top would have caused no problems for Krul, had Williamson heard the desperate cries to leave it. However, the former Portsmouth man decided to try and head it, but only found Long who converted his seventh league goal of the season.

Hodgson’s side continued their relentless attacks, but it was the visitors who had the chance to wrap the game up, when the excellent Ben Arfa dribbled through what seemed like half of the home side before forcing a good low stop from Foster.

The scare seemed to remind the Baggies that Newcastle still had the quality to hurt them and the remaining attacks seemed to be comfortably dealt with by Pardew’s disciplined Magpies.

Even the loss of Cisse – who looked to have a bad case of cramp – didn’t affect Newcastle, as they remained focused enough to see the two-goal cushion through to full-time. The win moves them on level points with 5th-placed Chelsea but more importantly, makes the European dream that bit closer.