Birmingham, England – Newcastle's transformed squad looks as if it could pay major dividends down the stretch as the club earned a narrow 2-1 victory over Aston Villa at Villa Park on Tuesday.
The Magpies spent much of the January transfer window reshaping their squad, losing Demba Ba to Chelsea but bringing in Yoan Gouffran, Moussa Sissoko and Mathieu Debuchy with the subsequent funds.
The trio of newcomers started Tuesday's match for Newcastle, but it was Sissoko who helped the visitors get off the mark just 19 minutes in.
The French midfielder threaded an inch-perfect through ball for Papiss Demba Cisse, who hammered home a shot to the bottom left corner for his fifth goal of the season.
Aston Villa came within inches of equalizing just three minutes later. Christian Benteke nodded down a pass for Charles N'Zogbia, who struck the woodwork with a superb curling effort from outside the box with his left foot.
The home side was left to rue that miss as Paul Lambert's men fell further behind in the 31st minute. Yohan Cabaye doubled Newcastle's advantage with a thunderous strike, taking one touch settle before unleashing a half-volley that beat Brad Guzan at the upper corner.
Aston Villa made the better start of the second half and put Tim Krul under immediate pressure, but it was a poor challenge from Debuchy on Gabriel Agbonlahor that helped the home side pull one back. Benteke converted the ensuing penalty to cut Villa's deficit in half.
The Villans continued to push in search of another goal, which looked sure to come had it not been for the heroic play from Tim Krul. The Dutch 'keeper produced a key save at the hour mark to deny Benteke in a one-on-one situation.
Newcastle was pinned in its own half for virtually the entire second period, but the Magpies sustained the pressure to ultimately come away with their first road victory in Premier League play this season and their first league win since December 22.
Alan Pardew's side improves to 24 points on the season to move four points clear of the relegation zone. Aston Villa remains on 20 points, occupying the final spot in the drop zone.
QPR 0, Manchester City 0
London, England - Manchester City handed Manchester United a golden opportunity to gain further separation at the top of the Premier League table after being held to a 0-0 draw by QPR at Loftus Road on Tuesday.
United takes on Southampton at Old Trafford on Wednesday, and a win for the Red Devils would be enough to see their lead improve to seven points with 14 matches to play.
The Citizens were not without their chances to claim maximum points at Loftus Road, creating several clear-cut scoring opportunities only to be denied by superb saves from Julio Cesar.
QPR came close to getting the win as well, but Joe Hart stoned Adel Taarabt on multiple occasions to preserve the clean sheet.
Despite extending its unbeaten run in league play to four games - a run that has seen Harry Redknapp's side take a total of six points from matches against Chelsea, Tottenham, West Ham and City - QPR remains bottom of the Premier League on 16 points. Manchester City remains in second place on 52 points.
Stoke City 2, Wigan 2
Stone-on-Trent, England - Wigan stormed back from a two-goal deficit to claim a well-earned point in a 2-2 draw with Stoke City at the Britannia on Tuesday.
Ryan Shawcross opened the scoring for Stoke in the 23rd minute before Peter Crouch put the Potters firmly in the driver's seat two minutes after halftime, but James McArthur pulled one back for Wigan in the 49th minute and Franco Di Santo earned the Latics a share of the spoils with his equalizer just after the hour mark.
The draw snaps a three-game losing skid for Stoke City as the Potters improve to 30 points, 10 points better than Wigan, which climbs out of the relegation zone via goal differential.
Sunderland 0, Swansea City 0
Sunderland, England - Sunderland and Swansea City played to a 0-0 stalemate at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday, a result that does not do either any favors.
The two clubs remain separated by five points, failing to move any closer to a European qualification spot.