Demba Ba – who almost joined Stoke earlier this year – haunted the Potters on Halloween night, by returning as a Newcastle United player to score a brilliant hat-trick in a 3-1 win which lifts Alan Pardew’s unbeaten side into third place in the Barclays Premier League.
Ba, who scored a hat-trick for Newcastle earlier in the season, was all set to sign for Stoke from Hoffenheim in January, but failed a medical. He joined West Ham instead, and following the Londoners’ relegation returned to the top-flight with Newcastle. Booed by Stoke supporters from the start, he had an astonishing impact on this match, heading home an opener after 12 minutes, adding a second after 40 minutes, then completing a treble from the penalty spot with nine minutes left.
In between, he also conceded a penalty for a push on Peter Crouch, which Jonathan Walters converted to pull Stoke briefly back into the match.
But Ba’s third goal ended Stoke’s resistance, and Newcastle headed north buoyed by yet another excellent result in what is developing into a terrific season.
Newcastle had not won a league match at Stoke since 1985 but their start to the campaign meant they were confident to take the game to their hosts.
And it paid off as they scored with their first genuine chance in the 12th minute. Goalkeeper Tim Krul’s kick was headed on by Leon Best to Gabriel Obertan, who found himself in plenty of space behind left-back Marc Wilson. The Frenchman’s inviting cross into the six-yard area picked out Ba and the Senegal international nodded home his sixth league goal in five matches. The Magpies doubled their lead five minutes before the interval when Upson could only help Fabricio Coloccini’s lofted pass on to Best on the right of the penalty area and he mis-hit a shot low for Ba to tap in his second.
Referee Mike Dean handed Stoke a lifeline when he adjudged that Ba had shoved Crouch over in a crowded penalty box, and Walters converted, but the official saw a push at the other end which allowed man of the match Ba to complete the hat-trick.