Newcastle up to third after Ba hat-trick

STOKE (1) vs NEWCASTLE (3)

NEWCASTLE’S remarkable start to the season continued last night with a fine win over Stoke achieved largely thanks to striker Demba Ba’s second hat-trick of the season.

The Senegal international, who arrived on a free in the summer after he was released by West Ham, nearly joined Stoke last January, but a long-standing knee injury meant Stoke boss Tony Pulis was unwilling to take a £9m gamble at the time.

And Pulis was made to regret that decision as the 26-year-old gave a predatory performance, showing the Britannia faithful just what they missed out on.

Ba headed Alan Pardew’s men ahead from their first attack in the 12th minute and poked unbeaten Newcastle into a two-goal lead shortly before half-time as Leon Best’s miss-hit shot fell perfectly into his path.

Stoke were handed a lifeline 15 minutes from the end when Jonathan Walters lashed home a penalty, but Ba ensured there was no grandstand finale when he also converted from the spot after Best had been shoved in the back by Robert Huth.