English Premiership

Newcastle, Villa share spoils

Newcastle United's Florian Thauvin, left, vies for the ball with Aston Villa's Ashley Westwood (AP)
Newcastle United's Florian Thauvin, left, vies for the ball with Aston Villa's Ashley Westwood (AP)

Newcastle - Ghana forward Jordan Ayew rescued Aston Villa with a stunning equaliser in his side's 1-1 draw at Newcastle on Saturday, but the Premier League strugglers remain deep in trouble.

Ayew's second half curler cancelled out Newcastle captain Fabricio Coloccini's first half opener at St James' Park to give Villa only their third point in six matches since Remi Garde replaced the sacked Tim Sherwood.

Yet Ayew's fourth Villa goal since his £8m move from French club Lorient in July hardly left his team singing in the Tyneside rain.

Villa's players will sit down for their Christmas dinner next week with the team bottom of the table and 10 points from safety.

They are on a woeful 16-game winless run in the league, the longest streak without a victory in Villa's history.

The only consolation for Villa is the teams that were bottom of the Premier League on Christmas Day in each of the last two seasons - Leicester and Sunderland - managed to avoid relegation.

Newcastle could take little more encouragement from a result that ruined the momentum of successive wins against Liverpool and Tottenham and left them one place and three points above the relegation zone.

As torrential rain lashed down on Tyneside, both sides struggled to establish any momentum in a first half riddled with misplaced passes.

Newcastle striker Papiss Cisse should have done better than head straight at Villa keeper Brad Guzan from Daryl Janmaat's cross and that was the Senegal international's last contribution as he limped off with a hamstring injury.

His replacement Aleksandar Mitrovic saw a header tipped over by Guzan in the 38th minute and from the resulting corner, Newcastle took the lead.

Jack Colback's delivery reached the unmarked Coloccini at the far post and, with Villa making little effort to clear, the Argentina defender's scuffed shot beat Guzan for his first goal at St James' Park since January 2011.

Villa could hardly have been worse in the first half but they emerged after the break with a more dynamic look and Jordan Veretout's low strike from the edge of the area was parried away by Rob Elliot.

With players slipping and sliding on the slick surface, it was no surprise Ayew fired wildly over the bar when he attempted an ambitious volley.

But that turned out to be just a sighter for Ayew, who scored Villa's equaliser in the 61st minute with a superb strike after Siem de Jong had somehow headed wide from close-range seconds earlier.

Cutting in from the left side of the Newcastle area, Ayew took advantage of Janmaat's failure to get tight to him and curled an unstoppable shot into the far corner.

Steve McClaren's side had a golden opportunity to snatch the points when Ayoze Perez teed up Georginio Wijnaldum, but the Dutchman's miscued effort was easy for Guzan.

And in the end, Newcastle were indebted to Elliot for a fine save to keep out Rudy Gestede's header in the closing minutes.

Wed 08 Jul 20 19:00 PM (SAST)
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