Hatem Ben Arfa turned in a stunning performance to inspire Newcastle United to their first away win of the season, as they beat Aston Villa 2-1 at Villa Park.

The French midfielder scored the first from close range before setting up Yoan Gouffran for Newcastle’s winner, after Christian Benteke had equalised in the second half.

Alan Pardew gave Loic Remy and Yohan Cabaye their first starts of the season, while Vurnon Anita kept his place ahead of Cheick Tiote in midfield. The shape and style of the midfield certainly worked, as Ben Arfa constantly found the space and time needed to control the game.

The first example came when the former Marseille man weighted a nice pass through to Papiss Cisse, only for the flag to deny the Senegal striker a clean run on goal.

But Ben Arfa was clearly in the mood and benefitted after some impressive work from Remy to open the scoring. The on-loan striker made excellent ground down the left wing before crossing into the box, where Cisse dummied and Ben Arfa fired past Brad Guzan.

Villa began to pressure but danger man Benteke was being marshalled brilliantly by Fabricio Coloccini and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa. The Magpies repelled everything Villa could come up with, blocking shots from long range before launching dangerous-looking counter attacks.

Jores Okore limped off after landing awkwardly for the home side, before Remy and Cabaye both went close with long range efforts before half-time.

Paul Lambert’s side looked better after the break, coming close through Ron Vlaar before wasting their best chance. Andreas Weimann’s cross found Gabriel Agbonlahor six yards from goal, only for the one-time England man to somehow miss when it was easier to score.

Newcastle responded by almost scoring a spectacular second.

A clever, pre-meditated corner routine saw Cabaye’s corner floated to the edge of the box, where Mathieu Debuchy – who turned in arguably his best performance since signing from Lille 8 months ago – volleyed just wide of Guzan’s post.

But it was Villa whose corner routine led to the second goal of the game. Lambert’s side have an obvious plan from corners to float it towards Benteke and allow the Belgian’s incredible leap to fashion a chance and Newcastle didn’t deal with it. Tim Krul should have done better as he rushed to try and claim the high ball, but Benteke met it first and powered a header home for the equaliser.

With the momentum now with the home side, Newcastle needed to show the character that they’ve been accused of lacking in recent months. Gouffran was sent on for the tiring Remy as Pardew tried to give his side the lift they needed.

Six minutes after being pegged back, it was Ben Arfa who created the winner. The 26-year-old scored the winning goal against Fulham a fortnight ago with a long range strike, and it was a similar effort that set up Gouffran this week.

Guzan could only parry his powerful attempt, allowing Gouffran – who has missed a series of late chances this season – to pounce and tap into the empty net for all three points.