Newcastle United 1-1 Aston Villa

A wonderful second-half strike by Jordan Ayew helped Aston Villa earn a much-needed 1-1 draw against Newcastle United at a sodden St James’ Park on Saturday.
The Ghana striker showed great skill and precision to unleash an unstoppable curling effort past Rob Elliot and cancel out Fabricio Coloccini’s first-half opener.
It was a moment of genius that sparked Villa into life after they had created little of note for the first hour.
Newcastle, who were looking for a third straight win after notable victories over Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, took the lead when Coloccini turned in Siem de Jong’s corner.
Torrential Tyneside rain made life difficult for both teams with standing water causing the ball to hold up, and De Jong missed a golden opportunity to make it 2-0 shortly before Ayew’s effort.
A draw means Newcastle are one place and three points above the Barclays Premier League relegation zone, while Villa remain 10 points from safety and without a win since Remi Garde took charge last month.
In an opening of few chances, Newcastle, unchanged from last weekend’s dramatic last-gasp win at Spurs, came close when Georginio Wijnaldum shot into the side-netting from a tight angle.
Newcastle began to up the ante, though, and Papiss Cisse leapt well to meet Daryl Janmaat’s cross from the right, only to head straight at Brad Guzan.
Cisse pulled up hurt when chasing the ball shortly afterwards and his replacement Aleksandar Mitrovic, who scored at White Hart Lane last week, narrowly failed to make contact with Moussa Sissoko’s fizzed cross.
The pressure told in the 38th minute. Guzan tipped Mitrovic’s looping header over the crossbar and, from the resulting corner, Coloccini broke free from a static Villa defence to meet the low centre with a shot into the bottom right-hand corner, his first goal since November 2014.
Having mustered nothing of note in the first half Villa, who brought in Ashley Westwood for Rudy Gestede, finally tested Elliot through Jordan Veretout’s sweetly struck 25-yard effort after the break.
Villa were handed a huge let-off in the 56th minute. Wijnaldum held up a perfect cross from the left flank, but, with the goal gaping, De Jong nodded wide at the far post.
And five minutes later that miss proved costly for Newcastle. Veretout’s cross-field pass was collected by Ayew in the penalty area and he dropped his shoulder to escape the attention of Janmaat before rifling a shot into the far corner.
Villa appeared energised by the goal and started to push for a crucial winner. Garde’s men were let off the hook again, though, when Wijnaldum failed to make clean contact with Ayoze Perez’s centre from close range.
In a frantic finish, Villa substitute Gestede had a powerful header tipped over by Elliot, while Perez, whose stoppage-time goal sank Spurs last week, blazed over from close range.
Newcastle head coach Steve McClaren: “We had three clear-cut ones, [but] the defining moment was Siem’s chance that we missed.
“It’s one of those things. Two minutes later they equalised, but it could have been 2-0.”
“There were two good chances for Gini Wijnaldum and Ayoze Perez.
“Another day and you take those chances. They were difficult, difficult conditions.
“I’d say that was a battling point and two points lost. I just saw three clear-cut chances. I’m proud of the players – they kept going forward and forward.”
Aston Villa manager Remi Garde: “I think the mentality of the players this afternoon in second half was brilliant.
“I need to use that as a base to work on. My disappointment was we played only 45 minutes.
“If we can play 90 minutes like the second half we will have chances. We need that to get out of this situation.”
“The attitude was really different from the first half. In the first half we didn’t win challenges we were out of the game in terms of intensity and lost all the duels.
“If you can’t win the ball you can’t win game. We tried to win that second half and of course the coming of Gestede was very important for the team.”