On this day in 2012, Newcastle United made the trip to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea. The script that evening belonged very much to then new-Toon striker Papiss Cisse, who lit up the Bridge with a goal-of-the-season winning strike.
There was a lot going on in the Premier League that night. Over at the Reebok Stadium in Bolton – Fabrice Muamba returned to the ground for the first time since his near-fatal cardiac arrest a few weeks prior.
In London though, the star of the show was none other than Newcastle’s new number nine, Papiss Cisse. He’d been on an incredible run of form since arriving in January, partnering fellow Senegalese striker Demba Ba in attack.
Prior to the game, Cisse had bagged a very impressive 11 goals in 11 games wearing black and white. Right from the outset, in his debut against Aston Villa in the February, he had fans excited – lashing one in from the edge of the area.
This game, for me, was the stand-out point of not only Cisse’s first season on Tyneside, but his entire tenure in the north east of England.
The thing a lot of people tend to forget about when remembering this game is the sheer ferocity of his first goal in the game. After less than 20 minutes, he put Newcastle into the lead with a cracking strike.
Italian left-back Davide Santon drove at Jose Bosingwa down the Toon left. He then cut inside and pinged a pass right into the feet of Cisse. The striker took one touch, flicking the ball up a few feet into the air before unleashing a venomous volley into the top right corner.
United came close to doubling their lead soon after as the other Senegalese striker Demba Ba rattled the crossbar.
With a corner routine straight off the training ground, Hatem Ben Arfa drilled the ball in low, Yohan Cabaye swung at it and missed the ball but it fell right to Ba. He smashed an effort toward goal but looked up to see it smash the bar and come back out.
In the second half, the game continued in a fairly balanced manner as United edged towards a one goal victory at the Bridge – a result which would see them move onto level points with Spurs in fourth.
Cheick Tiote suffered a head injury which, rather disconcertingly, left him on the floor and in need of a stretcher. The Ivorian was down for ten minutes. As a result, the referee had to add that time onto the end of the game as injury time – during which, Cisse stepped up once more.
United won a throw-in, again down the left side. Ryan Taylor hurled the ball down the sideline toward substitute Shola Ameobi. The United veteran chested the ball into the path of Cisse who unleashed an effort that, to this day, I can’t understand.
The ball flew off the outside of his right boot and did what I can only describe as a physics-defying bootleg to the right, over the head of Petr Cech in the Chelsea goal, off the far post and in. The away end goes berserk, the commentators are in a state of pure disbelief and even Chelsea striker Didier Drogba gave a nod of approval.
Unfortunately, this game saw Cisse’s career at Newcastle peak. He did go on to score a few more brilliant goals over the course of the next few years, but never managed to repeat the same level of prolific scoring he did in his first six months.
Here’s the highlights from that incredible game: