JOY and pain. There were both at St James’s Park.
There was the pain etched on the face of Ryan Taylor as he tearfully walked off the pitch with the joy coming later thanks to the right foot of Moussa Sissoko.
After the game, QPR’s former Newcastle United midfielder Joey Barton admitted the match wouldn’t be high up the Match of the Day running order.
He was right, it wasn’t a classic.
Yet it was memorable all the same.
Alan Pardew’s United side have come a long way in a short space of time.
A month ago, the Magpies were in the Premier League’s relegation zone.
Today, it sits, proudly, in a European place after a run of five successive league victories, six in all competitions.
The team has also gone 432 minutes in the league and Capital One Cup without conceding a goal. Football really is a funny old game.
Just how long they can stay there is another matter?
But, on the evidence of the past few weeks, United have a genuine chance of challenging for a European football over the coming months.
Only time will tell if the team is able to seize that chance.
Saturday’s match against QPR told us more about Pardew’s rejuvenated side, a team which just a few short weeks ago looked set for a fight against relegation.
Certainly, injury-hit Newcastle had to fight against QPR.
United were dominant for the first half an hour and Robert Green had to be alert in the visiting goal.
Remy Cabella, in particular, was a threat, as was Ayoze Perez when he took the ball.
A push from Sandro on Massadio Haidara in the box went unpunished, and it looked only a matter of time before Newcastle got a breakthrough.
The momentum was with Newcastle, though a goal didn’t come.
Then it happened.
The dynamic of the game – and the mood inside the stadium – changed when Taylor went down clutching his knee.
It was the same knee which had kept him out for more than two years.
Taylor’s team-mates gathered around him before he got up and disconsolately left the pitch.
QPR got themselves on the front foot after the break for a spell.
But there were chances for United – Sissoko split the defence with a superb pass for Perez, whose shot was stopped by Green.
The game was in the balance until the 79th minute.
Sissoko himself started the move, which culminated in him taking a clever touch in the box with his back to goal before turning and shooting beyond Green.
The Frenchman, captain for the afternoon, ran to the bench to celebrate with Cabella and Vurnon Anita.
Newcastle, despite coming under pressure from QPR, saw the game out to climb, briefly, into fourth place.
The victory was all the more impressive given the names of the players not available to Pardew, whose position had looked under severe pressure in the face of fan protests a couple of months ago.
Pardew, however, has found a way to win with what he has at his disposal.
That is no mean feat.
He isn’t getting credit – yet – from some fans, who will argue the team’s recent success is down to the endeavours of those on the pitch.
But if he is to blame when things are not going well, then he, at least in part, must be responsible when the side is winning games.
It was never all Pardew’s fault.
The narrative was never that simple, it never is at United.
Newcastle, over the past five weeks, have become quite good at winning games.
Hopefully, it’ll prove a habit that’s hard to break.
“I think anybody who recognises Premier League football and watches it on a regular basis would see that as a really powerful performance from a young team,” said Pardew who is not thinking of Europe just yet. “So that was really good for us.”
“What we have got is a real depth in the squad, which bodes well for the League Cup and bodes well for the Premier League.
“But I think if we were winning 2-0, 3-0 and really punishing teams when we are in possession a little bit more, I would be a bit more confident we could, so I think we are some way off that yet.”