Fabian Schär double helps Newcastle end Aston Villa’s unbeaten home run

<span>Photograph: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images

Given this was only Newcastle’s ­second away league win of the ­season, no wonder they seemed determined to savour every moment. Their supporters, some of whom by the end were naturally topless in ­biting temperatures, certainly did.

From Fabian Schär scoring twice and, deep into stoppage time, attempting a Cruyff turn past halfway and Anthony Gordon singing along to Who’s That Team We Call United?, the Toon Army’s toe-tapping terrace anthem, as the players celebrated before the away end, there was a rich tapestry of snapshots from what felt like a significant evening for Eddie Howe’s side. Bruno Guimarães, after another superb performance, headed down the tunnel clutching Kinder Bueno chocolate, his favourite sweet treat, given to him by a fan.

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Villa’s emotions after the final ­whistle were in sharp contrast, a pale performance until Leon Bailey’s arrival just after the hour paving the way to a first league defeat here in 346 days, since losing to Arsenal last ­February. Ollie Watkins scored his 50th Premier League goal for Aston Villa, ­becoming the third player to reach that tally after Gabby ­Agbonlahor and Dwight Yorke, but it was ultimately a deeply ­dispiriting outing. Aside from ­Bailey, positives were at a premium. For Unai Emery’s side, it is now one win in five league games. Is their assault on the top four waning?

Sean Longstaff could have added a fourth Newcastle goal in the 89th minute but this was a five-star ­Newcastle display. The only sour note was the suspected groin injury that forced ­Alexander Isak off a few minutes before the end of the first half, leaving Howe without a fit bona fide striker. The manager is hopeful the injury is not too serious and, with Callum Wilson closing on a return to training after a calf ­problem, ­dismissed suggestions Newcastle could dip into the transfer market before Thursday’s deadline.

“I expect to be finished for the ­window,” Howe said. “There is very little time left to do anything in or out. I don’t think we have the [financial] ability to do anything.”

Newcastle ran out 5-1 winners when these sides met at the start of the season so Villa were well aware of the kind of damage Howe’s side are capable of inflicting, even if they had shown little of that threat away from St James’ Park this season, ­losing their last five away matches in the league. Until this trip, their sole away win in the top flight this campaign was their 8-0 dissection of Sheffield United at Bramall Lane in September, when eight different players got on the scoresheet.

Schär was one of the few players who did not score that day but he was the unusual source for Newcastle’s two first-half goals, spread across four minutes. Both stemmed from Kieran Trippier corners, the first when Schär shook off Douglas Luiz to sidefoot in and the second when the defender reacted quickest to Anthony Gordon’s volley, which deflected off Clément Lenglet, bouncing off the crossbar, his second and third goals of the season.

Inside the first minute, ­Newcastle’s plan to feast on the space behind ­Villa’s high back line was clear. Isak was flagged offside chasing a Schär pass and moments later the striker put a thumb up to acknowledge ­Guimarães’s lofted ball down the middle.

Until John McGinn made a harsh but fair challenge on Gordon, the game – and indeed the atmosphere – seemed strangely flat. As with Villa’s 0-0 draw in the FA Cup fourth round at Chelsea on Friday, perhaps it is just a sign of the heightened expectations given their record this season. Howe is certainly familiar with that. “I told the players I’m very proud of them, our supporters and our work at Villa Park,” Emery said. “A loss had to come and we cannot lose ­perspective. When Newcastle played as they did, it is not easy to win.”

Schär was a ubiquitous ­presence for Newcastle, scoring at one end and extinguishing danger at the other, making a vital clearance a few minutes into the second half. Miguel Almirón, too, is a ­reliable outlet for Newcastle and when the substitute, who replaced Isak on 43 minutes, burned down the left flank, it spelled trouble for Villa. Jacob ­Murphy was waiting at the back post for a tap-in and while he did not ­connect cleanly with Almirón’s cross, his effort bobbling off both feet, it proved sufficient and Àlex Moreno ended up colliding with a post after making a last-ditch attempt to keep the ball out.

Bailey, not deemed fit enough to start after a back problem, was ­influential in Villa’s goal. McGinn located Bailey on the right and the Jamaican supplied Watkins, who swept in his cross from close range. Emery took a quick glance at the scoreboard. In other words: how long is left? Two minutes later Watkins, again fed by Bailey, thought he had further reduced the deficit, only for the assistant referee, Lee Betts, to raise his flag. McGinn halted his celebrations and a VAR check confirmed Watkins had strayed offside. Newcastle’s, ­however, ­continued long into the night.