Sissoko helps Newcastle take giant step forward
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew believes Moussa Sissoko will help the Magpies take a giant step forward after the France midfielder's double inspired a dramatic 3-2 win over Chelsea.
Pardew recognised Sissoko's qualities when he first watched him play in Ligue 1 more than a year ago and finally landed the Toulouse player just before last week's transfer deadline.
The move paid instant dividends as Sissoko transformed Saturday's enthralling clash with the European champions by netting the equaliser and then the stoppage-time winner on his home debut to lift Newcastle away from the relegation zone.
"Moussa walked in here like a giant and played like a giant," Pardew said. "He has a strength of character and power in his game that we've been searching for this season.
"I remember watching him play for Toulouse about 14 months ago and came away thinking he was definitely one for us. I felt if we could get him it would really make my day and we managed to do that.
"He has paid us back handsomely and his winning goal signalled his entrance to the Premier League. Our fans are intelligent. They know their football and know a good player when they see one. He will give us a lot more than just goals."
Pardew signed five players from France during the January window and Sissoko wasn't the only one of Newcastle's imports to impress against Chelsea.
Yoan Gouffran gave a composed display on his home debut, while Mathieu Debuchy was a major influence on the game, as was Yoann Cabaye, who has been at St James' Park a little longer than his compatriots.
"It was a win with a French feel," Pardew said. "There were some really good performances from all our French players. Perhaps there was a question mark about whether they would battle, but you could see the answer here.
"Yoann Cabaye was magnificent and played like a true French international. There are only two players I was desperate to get. One was Cabaye, the other was Sissoko - and we got them both."
Earlier the Blues had lost Senegal forward Demba Ba after an incident which upset his manager Rafael Benitez.
Ba, signed from Newcastle last month, suffered a broken nose in a collision with former team-mate Fabricio Coloccini as he headed wide in the 32nd minute.
"For me, it was a penalty and red card," Benitez said. "If it was in the middle of the pitch, it would have been a free-kick.
"I didn't see it from the bench, but it's very clear after watching the replay. A player with a broken nose and bleeding for five minutes is the evidence."
Benitez did not suggest that it altered the outcome of the game, but added: "It is something we have to consider. I want to remind people that it happened.
"The second-half was fantastic and I was really pleased with the reaction of the players. We scored two great goals and had more chances, but we let them counter-attack.
"We are still looking upwards, though. We are in the top four and aiming to finish fourth or third. We have players coming back, more options and perhaps fresh legs on the pitch."
Sissoko's goals settled the match, however, to move Newcastle further away from the relegation zone to the delight of Pardew, who said: "When you play top sides like Chelsea you have to show no fear and that's what we did in the first half.
"We didn't let them settle, but you can't keep a great team down and Chelsea scored two goals out of the top drawer.
"When you get goals like that, it usually knocks the stuffing out of a team, but we didn't let that happen.
"We also showed spirit and quality. Suddenly the situation is a lot healthier and you can look at us and think we can climb the league."
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