Newcastle United beat Norwich City thanks to leading man Shola Ameobi

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Alan Pardew has predicted that Shola Ameobi will become Britain's Prime Minister one day. For the moment though the centre-forward, Newcastle United's most intelligent player, still has important work to attend to on the pitch. Politics can wait.

A week after helping Nigeria – he holds dual nationality – qualify for the World Cup finals in Brazil, Ameobi failed to score but, delighting in deconstructing Norwich's defence, was largely responsible for consigning his former mentor, Chris Hughton, to a thoroughly miserable Tyneside return.

There was a warm welcome for Hughton, sacked by Newcastle almost three years ago, but an awful start from his Norwich side.

Despite a second-half rally featuring a fine goal from Leroy Fer, the visitors were effectively sunk from the moment Yohan Cabaye's second-minute in-swinging corner confounded Hughton's defence, the back line allowing the ball to bounce.

With John Ruddy completely wrong-footed, Loïc Rémy opened the scoring, directing a simple, far-post close-range header into the empty net.

Ruddy's positioning proved rather better after Moussa Sissoko's connection with Ameobi's superb through-ball left the French midfielder with only the goalkeeper to beat. Spreading himself adroitly, Ruddy out-psyched Sissoko, forcing him to shoot wide.

Demonstrating precisely why he is keeping Papiss Cissé on the bench, Ameobi created Newcastle's second goal for Yoan Gouffran. Meeting Sissoko's cross, his powerful header was stopped by Ruddy but the keeper could not prevent the ball from squirming out of his hands.

Hovering hopefully, Gouffran – currently restricting Hatem Ben Arfa to substitute duties – needed no further invitation to tap it into the net. A third successive Premier League win beckoned for Pardew.

"We weren't at our best, we were better without the ball than with it," he conceded. "But we were really committed to win, Shola was terrific and, up until Norwich scored, we were in total control."

Following his heroics during Newcastle's victory at Tottenham a fortnight ago, Tim Krul virtually enjoyed an afternoon off although the Holland goalkeeper was deceived by Anthony Pilkington's header and looked extremely relieved to see it loop tantalisingly wide of his far post. Poor Pilkington – a winger apparently on Pardew's shopping list – was subsequently taken off on a stretcher with a torn hamstring.

Newcastle could easily have been three up at the interval, Ruddy doing very well to repel an awkward shot from an increasingly inspired Ameobi, whose ability to hold the ball up was creating all sorts of inviting spaces for the ever menacing Rémy to exploit.

Another shot and save from the same pair early in the new period emphasised that for all Norwich's bouts of pretty passing and Nathan Redmond's tricky change of pace, Pardew's team were dominant. When Ameobi departed to an ovation and was replaced by Cissé, the game appeared over.

Or so it seemed until the otherwise assured Fabricio Coloccini – once again hankering after a return to Argentina – lost Fer at a Redmond corner and saw him thump a high velocity header past Krul.

On came Ben Arfa but Norwich had renewed hope and Pardew endured a perhaps unexpectedly nervy final 10 minutes, Newcastle's manager looking suitably reprieved when a Wes Hoolahan free-kick from a highly dangerous position was deflected to safety. Admittedly Cissé had earlier despatched the ball into the back of the net but, not for the first time in his career, he was blatantly offside.

No matter; his team-mates did enough to ensure Pardew was in a position to offer Hughton a consolatory handshake at the final whistle. It could have been worse for Norwich's manager had Ryan Bennett been shown a red rather than yellow card for an iffy, late, arguably "last-man" foul on Sissoko as, clean through, he accelerated towards goal.

Ever the gentlemen, Hughton made a point of praising a favourite former protege with whom he once enjoyed debating politics.

"Shola Ameobi is a very, very good player," he said. "He allows Newcastle to be a bit different and Rémy is as good as anyone at running into the space around him. I'm really delighted Shola is going to the World Cup at this stage of his career. It will be a wonderful moment for him."

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