Shola Ameobi scored a fantastic late goal to give Newcastle United a 1-0 win over Queens Park Rangers in an otherwise dire match at St James’ Park.
Ameobi, whose introduction from the bench livened up what had previously been a dreadful encounter, cut in from the right before unleashing a left-foot curler that flew past Robert Green into the bottom corner.
The 31-year-old, a fringe player this season, had replaced the ineffectual Papiss Cisse, Alan Pardew’s decision vindicated as the Nigeria striker gave Newcastle some purpose up front.
The result moves Newcastle up to 13th, while QPR avoid returning to the bottom after Manchester City snatched a late winner against Reading.
The first half was terrible to watch, with neither side mustering an effort on target. Newcastle had more of the ball but mostly played it long, with their set pieces woeful and deliveries from wide well defended by Ryan Nelsen.
Highlights were non-existent, the best moment a fine tackle by Fabio on Cisse after a clever one-two with Demba Ba.
More typical of the half were some comically poor efforts from Ba and Cheick Tiote, the former wasting two well-positioned free-kicks with wild efforts into the crowd.
With five minutes of the half left, supporters fled to the bar in their droves, although the driving rain may have played a part in their decision-making.
The second half started with more promise as Adel Taarabt – hitherto quiet as his team-mates proved incapable of finding him – dribbled past four men before releasing Djibril Cisse, whose low drive was saved by Tim Krul.
Normal service soon resumed, with Toon favouring the long diagonal ball, and QPR struggling to get Taarabt on the ball – when they did, Cisse gave it away.
Shaun Wright-Phillips entered the play for the visitors and, while he offered width and enthusiasm, his touch was poor, the first act to run the ball out of play.
Newcastle also made changes, the withdrawal of Jonas Gutierrez and Cisse coming seconds after a fine cross from the former was poorly headed over by the latter.
Their replacements, Gabriel Obertan and Ameobi, fared better, the latter immediately earning a free-kick that Vurnon Anita swung on target, Green saving well.
Anita was finally finding his range as Green palmed out a cheeky corner that almost snuck in at the near post, as Newcastle suddenly found an extra gear.
Ameobi headed wide from a good position from another fine Anita delivery as the hosts took charge, showing more guile with the ball instead of lumping it aimlessly to the forwards.
Finally, Toon made the breakthrough, and it was fitting that local hero Ameobi should get the goal, deftly switching from his right foot to left before unleashing a beautiful finish across Green and in.
QPR piled men forward but it was too little too late and only served to further expose the lumbering Clint Hill, who was fortunate not to be sent off after – having just been booked – he hauled down Ba on the edge of the box.
Sylvain Marveaux’s free-kick flew inches wide, while Green made a save from the French winger after a solo run following a QPR corner.
There was a late chance for the visitors when Jamie Mackie was brought down on the edge of the box, but Taarabt’s free-kick was easily saved by Krul.
The whistle went soon afterwards and Newcastle celebrated only their fifth win of the season as QPR returned to losing ways immediately after their first victory of the campaign.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Ryan Nelsen (QPR) - A standout performance in a poor match as the veteran centre-back repelled high and low deliveries with poise and power. Unfortunately he was partnered by Clint Hill, who is not a Premier League level player.
NEWCASTLE: Krul 6, Simpson 6, Williamson 6, Coloccini 6, Santon 7, Perch 6, Tiote 6, Anita 6, Gutierrez 6, Cisse 5, Ba 5; Subs: Marveaux 7, Obertan 7, Shola Ameobi 7
QPR: Green 6, Ferdinand 5, Nelsen 7, Hill 4, Fabio 6, Mackie 6, Granero 5, Mbia 6, Faurlin 5, Taarabt 6, Cisse 6; Subs: Derry 6, Wright-Phillips 6, Hoilett 5