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Newcastle storm Palace to close in on top four

ESPN staff
December 21, 2013 « Taylor exit blows world championship wide open | Chartbeat test »
Yohan Cabaye celebrates after putting Newcastle ahead at Selhurst Park © PA Photos
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Newcastle closed to within three points of the Premier League's top four with a 3-0 win at Crystal Palace, while Stoke further cemented their mid-table position at Christmas with a victory over Aston Villa.

Yohan Cabaye gave Newcastle the lead at Crystal Palace on 25 minutes after being set up by Moussa Sissoko's pull-back, with his shot finding the net via a deflection. It was 2-0 on 39 minutes when Danny Gabbidon put through his own goal with a wild shank at a Mathieu Debuchy cross under no pressure.

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David Moyes has turned to Wayne Rooney © PA Photos

It looked as though that would be the end of the scoring right up until the 86th minute, when Hatem Ben Arfa converted a penalty after Shola Ameobi had been brought down in the box.

Stoke move up to 10th following their 2-1 victory over Aston Villa. After a goalless first half, Charlie Adam made the breakthrough five minutes into the second period as he latched on to Peter Crouch's knockdown to score from a tight angle.

However, Stoke gifted Villa a path back into the game when Erik Pieters' header back towards Asmir Begovic was too short and Libor Kozak pounced to equalise. That parity lasted just four minutes before Crouch pounced on a loose ball from close range to restore Stoke's advantage. Crouch almost added another but his effort cannoned back off the woodwork.

Managerless West Brom grabbed a vital point as they drew 1-1 with Hull City at the Hawthorns. Jake Livermore capped off a swift counter-attack on 26 minutes with a crisp finish from a tight angle and it looked for a long while as though it would be enough for all three points. However, Matej Vydra struck with just four minutes to go to rescue a point.

Sunderland extended their unbeaten run to three matches with a goalless draw at home to Norwich. The closest either side came to breaking the deadlock was when a sliced clearance of a corner allowed Wes Brown to beat Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy to the ball, but his header hit the post. Brown was then sent off in the final stages of the match, which will see him suspended for their trip to Everton on Boxing Day.

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