French international striker Loic Remy marked his return to the Newcastle line-up after serving a three game suspension with a late goal to give his side a much-needed 1-0 win over Aston Villa in their Premier League clash on Sunday.
The 27-year-old's 12th goal of the season was Newcastle's first since they beat West Ham 3-1 in a disastrous run, which also coincided with the departure of play-maker Yohan Cabaye to Paris Saint Germain, that has seen them lose six of their nine league matches. Defeat for Villa -- they have just two wins in their last 13 matches -- keeps them very much in the relegation battle, as they lie just four points above third from bottom Sunderland, who have a game in hand.
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew will also be relieved that the return from injury of Argentinian central defender Fabricio Coloccini saw the previously leaky defense succeed in keeping a clean sheet. The hosts had the first chance of the game as Paul Dummett, also recalled to the starting line-up, set up Papiss Cisse and his shot should have been easily gathered by Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan but he fumbled it and it had to be cleared for a corner by a Villa defender.
Villa then had two clear chances to break the deadlock, both falling to Gabriel Agbonlahor, first his fierce effort was tipped away by Tim Krul and then his long range effort was on target but went over the bar. Cisse, though, should have put the hosts ahead in time added on of the first-half as Remy set him up but he snatched at his shot from close range and sent it high over the bar.
The hosts had the better of the early part of the second-half although they had no reward, with Yoann Gouffran going just wide and Dummett sending a shot over the bar. Remy, who Pardew will hope he can make his loan signing permanent at the end of the season, made Guzan work hard to prevent his sharply-taken effort not sneak in with the American goalkeeper turning it round the post to safety but he was not to be denied at the death.
Dutch striker Luuk de Jong -- signed on loan during the January transfer window from Borussia Moenchengladbach -- saw his shot deflected and into the path of Remy, who made space and curled his shot past Guzan and then handed his shirt to a fan.