Newcastle 1-1 Villa match report: Clark header earns deserved point
Ciaran Clark went from villain to hero with a goal which earned Villa their first point of the season in an entertaining contest on Tyneside.
Sent off against Everton eight days earlier, Clark headed home Barry Bannan's 22nd-minute cross to put Paul Lambert's men ahead.
The visitors, though, were ultimately grateful to Brad Guzan, who was preferred to Shay Given in the starting line-up.
The American keeper had no chance with Hatem Ben Arfa's stunning equaliser just before the hour mark but his magnificent save in the final minute of stoppage time ensured Villa headed home with the point they deserved.
Everyone of claret and blue persuasion held their breath as Yohan Cabaye's free-kick looked destined for the top corner, but Guzan launched himself across goal to claw the ball away.
Another plus for Villa was Gabby Agbonlahor's first action of the season after overcoming a knee injury, the striker looking sharp after going on as a 64th minute substitute for Andreas Weimann.
Although Newcastle had a slight edge in the opening exchanges, Guzan wasn't unduly troubled, comfortably dealing with crosses from both flanks.
And although several of Villa's early promise evaporated because of misplaced final passes it was the visitors who created the first genuine threat on 19 minutes.
Bannan's cross from the left was flicked on to Darren Bent and the striker quickly brought the ball under control before hitting a low left-foot shot which was blocked by Tim Krul's legs.
Weimann's follow-up effort was charged away for a corner but those near misses gave Villa fresh impetus and three minutes later they were ahead when Clark met Bannan's left-wing cross with a lunging header which left Krul helpless as it flew into the bottom corner.
Newcastle responded by pushing Steven Taylor forward for a free-kick and the central defender was unlucky when he just failed to keep his header down as the ball sneaked through to him at the far post.
Then Demba Ba displayed fine control before setting up Papiss Cisse for a powerful low drive which Guzan got away for a corner with his foot, before Vurnon Anita sent a low 20-yarder narrowly off target.
After Guzan had saved Ba's low shot, Villa almost plundered a second goal when Weimman attempted a lob which initially looked no more than hopeful but only just cleared the bar.
On the stroke of half-time, Cisse sent a header beyond the far post but Villa opened the second half with some flowing football which had the Magpies firmly on the back foot.
Guzan had to be alert to clutch Ben Arfa's powerful header but the American keeper had no chance when he was finally beaten in the 59th minute, Ben Arfa unleashing an unstoppable right-foot drive which arrowed into the top corner from the left-hand edge of the penalty area.
What made the equaliser all the more galling was the fact that it was sandwiched between two good Villa attempts, Krul saving first from Stephen Ireland and then from Weimann, while Bent saw a header deflected for a corner following a Bannan centre.
Guzan needed treatment in the 77th minute after diving bravely to save at Ba's feet but Villa were still menacing, Ireland narrowly off target after Brett Holman had knocked Agbolahor's cross back into his path.
Agbonlahor then made a scintillating run through the middle, leaving two opponents in his wake before laying the ball off to Bent, whose shot was blocked before it could any damage.
But Guzan proved to be the ultimate hero with the brilliant stoppage-time save which ensured that Villa claimed their point.
Newcastle: Krul; Simpson ( Bigirimana, 38), Taylor, Coloccini, Santon; Anita, Cabaye, Ben Arfa, Gutierrez (Marveaux, 86); Cisse, Ba (Obertan, 87). Unused subs: Harper, Williamson, Gosling, Amalfitano.
Villa: Guzan; Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Lichaj; Holman, El Ahmadi (N'Zogbia, 72), Ireland, Bannan; Weimann (Agbonlahor, 64); Bent. Unused subs: Given, Baker, Burke, Williams, Bowery.
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