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Saturday, 3 November, 2001, 14:35 GMT
Bellamy double sinks Villa
Craig Bellamy scord in the 36th minute
Craig Bellamy gives Newcastle the lead
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Newcastle 3-0 Aston Villa

Craig Bellamy was the star as Newcastle moved into third in the Premiership with a comfortable win over leaders Aston Villa.

The victory puts Bobby Robson's side level with Leeds and just one point behind Villa, who may well lose the lead after Sunday's games.

A stunning half-volley by Bellamy gave Newcastle the lead shortly before the break after they had dominated the first half.

Alan Shearer matched his strike partner with another excellent goal four minutes into the second half and, after missing several chances, Bellamy wrapped up the match in the 82nd minute.

Alan Shearer and Steve Staunton
Shearer scored on his 400th league appearance
The home side came out at a furious pace and could have been two goals up within three minutes.

In the second minute Laurent Robert shot straight at Peter Schmeichel from the edge of the box, before Alan Shearer headed a good opportunity over the bar 60 seconds later.

The attacking combination of Shearer's physical presence and Bellamy's speed was giving Villa's defence problems and a succession of good opportunities followed.

That ranks as just about the best performance we've given our fans since the day I came here
Newcastle boss Bobby Robson

Solano had a shot blocked in the eighth minute by Alan Wright after Shearer's challenge on Steve Staunton had fallen kindly for the Peruvian.

And Schmeichel was forced to make a trademark one-on-one save when Bellamy was put clean through by Shearer in the 17th minute, parrying a fierce drive over the bar.

Hassan Kachloul and Juan Pablo Angel had sights of goal for Villa, but the goal that Newcastle deserved came in the 36th minute.

Robbie Elliott chipped the ball over the advancing Villa defence and Bellamy turned to lash a fierce half-volley past Schmeichel into the top corner.

Any thoughts that John Gregory's side would be able to take the initiative after the break were quickly dispelled.

Shearer, making his 400th league appearance, missed a golden opportunity to double Newcastle's lead moments into the second half when he headed against the post from six yards.

Peter Schmeichel and Alpay
Frustration at the back for Villa
But the former England captain quickly made up for that lapse.

After drifting out wide on the right he was picked out Robert Lee, and placed a stunning sidefoot volley past Schmeichel and into the top left-hand corner.

Villa had yet to seriously threaten Shay Given's goal.

They could only manage a brief resurgence when Dion Dublin came on for Angel on the hour and immediately shot just wide.

But confidence was surging through the Newcastle team, and Bellamy in particular.

The former Coventry striker was twice within inches of scoring a second, both times sliding the ball just wide of Schmeichel's left-hand post.

Bellamy and Shearer led the line exceptionally well and they were the major difference
Aston Villa boss John Gregory

His 10th goal of the season finally arrived when he was presented with another opportunity eight minutes from time, this time placing the ball between Schmeichel's legs.

The only question that remained was whether Bellamy would complete his hat-trick.

Several chances went begging, but the St James' Park crowd was more than happy with their team's efforts.

Newcastle: Given, Hughes, O'Brien, Dabizas, Elliott, Solano, Speed, Lee, Robert, Bellamy, Shearer. Subs: Acuna, Harper, Lua-Lua, Distin, Bernard.

Aston Villa: Schmeichel, Delaney, Alpay, Staunton, Wright, Hadji, Hendrie, Boateng, Kachloul, Vassell, Angel. Subs: Taylor, Dublin, Enckelman, Barry, Balaban.

Referee: C Wilkes (Gloucester).

BBC Sport's Simon Brotherton
"At times the football flowed like fine wine"
Newcastle manager Bobby Robson
"It was so important for us to win today"
Aston Villa manager John Gregory
"Newcastle worked harder than us"
Links to more Eng Prem stories are at the foot of the page.


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