Georginio Wijnaldum’s four goals give Newcastle vital Premier League victory
Georginio Wijnaldum hit Norwich for four as Newcastle finally ended their wait for a Barclays Premier League victory at the ninth attempt.
The Dutchman scored twice before the break and added two more as the Magpies survived a major test of their resolve to survive a concerted fightback by the visitors before running out 6-2 winners.
Steve McClaren’s men led 1-0, 2-1 and 3-1 thanks to Wijnaldum’s early double and Ayoze Perez’s effort, but Dieumerci Mbokani and Nathan Redmond ensured the Canaries went in at the break trailing by just the odd goal in five.
But in a wide-open game, Aleksandar Mitrovic’s first goal at St James’ Park and Wijnaldum’s third and fourth of the day lifted the home side from the foot of the table and set them up perfectly for next weekend’s derby trip to fellow strugglers Sunderland.
As he welcomed his players back to the dressing room at the break, McClaren’s emotions will have been decidedly mixed after 45 minutes which had seen them play some wonderful, incisive football and also twice gift Norwich a way back into the game.
Much has been made of the Magpies’ summer recruitment drive in the wake of their poor start, but Wijnaldum once again demonstrated his class in tandem with the infuriatingly enigmatic Moussa Sissoko.
At his best, the Frenchman is a menace when he runs at defenders and powers his way towards the penalty area, and that quality was much in evidence before the break.
Unfortunately for him, so too was his capacity to switch off when not on the ball – and he was not alone – and that helped to keep the visitors in touch.
Newcastle took a 14th-minute lead when after a one-two between Sissoko and Mitrovic had not come off, the France international calmly shifted the ball before sliding it into the path of Wijnaldum, who finished with aplomb.
The lead lasted just six minutes when Sissoko’s absence allowed Robbie Brady, who had earlier rattled a post from distance, to find Martin Olsson down the left and his inviting cross was touched home by Mbokani.
However, Wijnaldum struck once again to head Sissoko’s 26th-minute cross past goalkeeper John Ruddy, and when Ayoze Perez beat Ruddy from close range after Olsson had blocked his initial effort, the Magpies looked to be well on their way with 12 minutes of the first half remaining.
But Norwich grabbed a second lifeline within seconds when not only was Olsson allowed time and space on the left to cross, but Redmond was similarly unchallenged as he volleyed home from beyond the far post.
City boss Alex Neil saw his side lay siege to the Newcastle goal during the opening stages of the second half, but their task became more difficult with 64 minutes gone.
Sissoko floated the ball into Mitrovic’s run and the Serbia international controlled with his chest before smashing a left-foot volley past the helpless Ruddy, whose afternoon took a further turn for the worse two minutes later.
Sissoko and Wijnaldum combined to allow Daryl Janmaat to cross and Wijnaldum timed his run to perfection to complete his hat-trick with a close-range header, and although Redmond struck the upright, the Holland international sent a dipping 85th-minute shot into the top corner to round off a good day for his team.