MIKE Ashley watched Papiss Demba Cisse give Newcastle United a dramatic 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace this afternoon.
The club’s owner made his first visit to St James’s Park for a Premier League match in several months.
And Ashley saw substitute Hatem Ben Arfa set up Cisse in the 94th minute.
It was the striker’s first goal from open play in 11 months, and the result saw United move back into eighth place.
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Newcastle dominated the first-half possession, but Palace had the better chances.
Visiting forward Cameron Jerome put an early header wide, and a lively and energetic Cisse forced a save from Speroni at the other end of the pitch.
Luuk de Jong put a follow-up effort over the bar.
United struggled to pick their way through Palace’s compressed midfield and defence.
And Tony Pulis’s side were a danger on the break, and Fabricio Coloccini made a goal-saving block to deny them on one occasion.
Speroni again thwarted Cisse – who had got on the end of a right-wing Moussa Sissoko cross – in the 32nd minute.
Newcastle felt they should have been awarded a penalty in the 37th minute after Scott Dann appeared to handle a corner which had been headed down by de Jong.
But referee Lee Probert waved play on.
Palace’s Bolasie wasn’t far away with a left-footed shot in the 40th minute, and a free-kick from United’s Paul Dummett flew just wide before the break.
A shot from Bolasie clipped the crossbar early in the second half, and assistant manager John Carver, pictured, running the dugout in the absence of banned manager Alan Pardew, replaced de Jong with Ben Arfa at the hour-mark.
Speroni stopped another attempt from Cisse as United, energised by Ben Arfa’s introduction, pressed forward.
Cisse somehow headed a Ben Arfa cross over the bar in the 70th minute.
Shola Ameobi replaced Yoan Gouffran for the last quarter of an hour, but Newcastle found openings hard to come by.
Cheik Tiote struck the crossbar with a late shot, and Cisse couldn’t hit the target with a follow-up shot.
However, Cisse made no mistake from Ben Arfa’s deft right-wing cross deep in the dying seconds, the Senegal international heading the ball past a helpless Speroni.
The strike lifted the roof at St James’s Park, and lifted the club above Southampton in the league.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Krul; Yanga-Mbiwa, Williamson, Coloccini, Dummett; Sissoko (Marveaux, 88), Anita, Tiote, Gouffran (Shola Ameobi, 76); de Jong (Ben Arfa, 59), Cisse. Subs: Elliot, S Taylor, Haidara, Gosling.
CRYSTAL PALACE: Speroni, Mariappa, Dann, Delaney, Ward, Dikgacoi, Jedinak, Bolasie (Bannan, 67), Ledley, Puncheon (Guedioura, 80), Jerome (Murray, 76). Subs: Hennessey, Gabbidon, O’Keefe, Ince.
Goals: Cisse 90
Bookings: Delaney 85
Referee: Lee Probert (Wiltshire)