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English Premiership

Ba treble lifts Newcastle into third place

STOKE-ON-TRENT, United Kingdom, November 1 – Newcastle manager Alan Pardew insists Demba Ba wasn’t on a revenge mission as the Senegal striker showed Stoke what they are missing with a hat-trick in his side’s 3-1 win at the Britannia Stadium.

Ba was on the verge of joining Stoke in January but City boss Tony Pulis decided to call off the deal when a medical showed up issues with a knee problem.

He signed for West Ham instead and then moved to Newcastle in the close-season after the Hammers were relegated from the Premier League.

Ba has rarely suffered with injury problems since moving to England and he gave a fine demonstration of his talents to destroy Stoke on Monday as Newcastle moved into third place in the Premier League.

He struck twice from close range in the first half and, after Jonathan Walters had pulled one back from the spot, stroked home a late penalty to take his tally to eight in his last five league matches including two hat-tricks.

“I don’t think there is any animosity between Demba and this club,” Pardew said.

“He did a great job at West Ham and I brought him to Newcastle and he has been absolutely terrific. He doesn’t miss a day’s training.

“Don’t think this is a one-off from him. His link-up play, his all-round ability and his finishing are all excellent.

“He is always on the move in the box and if you do that you are going to score goals and that is why he got his first two.

“It showed sheer confidence to hit a penalty like that.”

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Pulis conceded he was keen to sign Ba but felt the risk of paying a big fee for a potentially injury-prone player wasn’t worth the risk.

“We really fancied Demba for a while but people have to remember we were paying £9 million for him with his wages and everything else,” he said.

“The medical people at this club are fantastic and they didn’t think his knee was a risk we could take at that time.

“Taking him on a free is a different option and he has certainly done well at West Ham and at Newcastle. He has no problems from me.”

Pardew’s side are only the second club to win at the Britannia Stadium this year and registered their first league win away to Stoke since 1985.

They are also unbeaten in their last 13 Premier League matches dating back to last season, the club’s longest undefeated run in the top-flight since a 14-match streak in 1950.

The Magpies are just one point behind second placed Manchester United and must be regarded as a danger to the established contenders for the top four positions.

Pardew has done an impressive job rebuilding a squad that lost Andy Carroll, Kevin Nolan and Joey Barton in the last 10 months. He was especially pleased with the way his players withstood Stoke’s physical approach.

“Obviously this is a really good Stoke side who have a strong squad and the way they play makes it difficult,” he said.

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“You have to show real character and my players did that. They showed another side to them and it is important in the Premier League you have many sides to your team.

“We set ourselves up to attack the game and on the break at times we looked threatening in the first half.”

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