MOUSSA Sissoko fired Newcastle United up to FOURTH in the Premier League at St James’s Park this afternoon.
Sissoko’s second-half goal gave Alan Pardew’s side a 1-0 win over Queens Park Rangers.
But the club’s sixth successive victory in all competitions was overshadowed by the injury suffered by Ryan Taylor, who had been handed his first league start in 32 months.
Taylor – who had spent more than two years on the sidelines after twice rupturing his cruciate ligament – looked to be in tears as he left the pitch with a suspected knee injury.
Newcastle made all the early running, with Ayoze Perez and Remy Cabella, in particular, causing QPR problems.
Jack Colback charged down an attempted clearance from Robert Green in the fifth minute, but the ball bounced just wide of the right-hand post.
It was to prove a busy afternoon for Green, who gathered a low shot from Cabella.
At the other end, QPR striker Charlie Austin shot across goal after a slip from Paul Dummett allowed him a run at goal.
An effort from Taylor was tipped over by the goalkeeper, and the utility player also shot into Green’s arms after good work from Perez and Cabella.
Left-back Massadio Haidara also had a penalty claim waved away by referee Chris Foy after Sandro had pushed him to the ground
Taylor, pictured, pulled up just past the half-hour mark, and was replaced by Yoan Gouffran.
Newcastle had lost their early momentum, and the half petered out in the wake of the injury to Taylor.
Sissoko set Perez away with a defence-splitting pass in the 58th minute, but Green was equal to the in-form forward’s shot.
Pardew threw on Papiss Demba Cisse in the 68th minute, with the striker replacing Cabella.
QPR, having survived a first-half bombardment, had got themselves on to the front foot, but United soon came back at them.
Perez tested Green with a shot from a Gouffran pull-back in the 74th minute.
The breakthrough finally came five minutes later.
Ameobi played in Sissoko, who turned and shot into the bottom right-hand corner.
Sissoko and his team-mates ran towards the bench to celebrate.
And Pardew’s side saw the game out to move into a Champions League place ahead of the game between Arsenal and Manchester United this evening.
Newcastle’s clean sheet means the team hasn’t conceded a goal in all competitions in 432 minutes.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Krul; Janmaat, Williamson, Dummett, Haidara; R Taylor (Gouffran, 34), Sissoko, Colback; Cabella (Cisse, 68), Perez (Armstrong, 89), Ameobi. Subs not used: Elliot, Streete, Anita, Ferreyra.
QUEENS PARK RANGERS: Green, Caulker, Barton, Austin, Fer, Suk-Young, Onuhoa, Henry, Dunne, Zamora, Sandro (Kranjcar, 61). Subs not used: Traore, Phillips, McCarthy, Isla, Mutch, Hoilett.
Goal: Sissoko 79
Bookings: Onuhoa 41, Sissoko 58, Dunne 73
Referee: Chris Foy (St Helens)