NEWCASTLE United suffered a second successive home defeat in the Premier League this afternoon.
Second-half goals from Michu and Jonathan de Guzman gave Swansea City a 2-1 win at St James’s Park, with Demba Ba’s injury-time strike too little, too late for Newcastle.
Alan Pardew’s side just couldn’t find a way past Brian Laudrup’s stubborn team, who were a danger on the break all game.
And the result means United - who dropped into the bottom half of the table - have won just one of their last seven league matches.
The pre-match talk was dominated by Senegal’s decision to invoke FIFA’s five-day rule after Papiss Demba Cisse’s non-appearance for them in their midweek friendly against Niger.
The club issued a strongly-worded statement on Cisse, who had been withdrawn from his country’s squad after suffering a back injury in last weekend’s 1-0 home defeat to West Ham United.
In his absence, Pardew handed Sammy Ameobi a start up front, his first in the Premier League this season, alongside Cisse’s Senegalese countryman Ba, who also missed the match.
Newcastle carved out several chances in the opening half hour, and Hatem Ben Arfa was at the heart of all of them.
The forward dinked a ball to Ba in the eighth minute, but the striker couldn’t convert from a tight angle. Ben Arfa struck the side netting himself four minutes later with a right-footed shot after jinking into the box.
Michu tested Tim Krul from distance in the 16th minute, but his low shot was gathered by the goalkeeper.
With 27 minutes on the clock, Ba put a flying header narrowly wide from a deep Ben Arfa delivery.
Swansea, for their part, were pressing United well, and Michael Laudrup’s side time and again got bodies in the way when Newcastle broke into the final third looking to play a decisive ball.
A tightly-marked Ben Arfa somehow found space for a fierce left-footed shot in the 32nd minute, but visiting goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel was able to push it away for a corner.
Shola Ameobi replaced Shane Ferguson for the second half, and Pardew’s side started the half with some welcome urgency.
Vurnon Anita shot narrowly wide in the 51st minute, as did Ba from a Sammy Ameobi ball seconds later.
However, Swansea remained a danger on the break, and Itay Shechter should have scored when Pablo Hernandez found him unmarked just outside the box. Instead, he just inches over Krul’s crossbar under pressure from stand-in captain Steven Taylor.
But their breakthrough wasn’t long in coming.
Krul’s goal kick found Hernandez on the left, and his cross was met by an unmarked Michu, who headed head Laudrup’s side into a 58th-minute lead.
At the other end, a cross from Shola Ameobi almost knocked out Ba, who was stood a yard or so from goal.
Pardew sent on Gael Bigirimana for Danny Simpson in the 74th minute, and Sylvain Marveaux followed him on to the pitch in a final change.
Shola Ameobi had a shot beaten away as United pressed for a late equaliser, but Pardew’s team - who face Maritimo at home on Thursday night in the Europa League - couldn’t conjure up a goal.
And de Guzman netted a second for Swansea after the visiting side’s Geordie substitute Danny Graham had a shot parried by Krul.
Ba struck in added time to take his tally for the season to eight goals.
There were boos from a some fans as referee Phil Dowd blew the final whistle.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Krul; Simpson (Bigirimana, 74), S Taylor, Williamson, Santon; Ben Arfa, Anita, Tiote, Ferguson (Shola Ameobi, 46); Sammy Ameobi (Marveaux, 80), Ba. Subs not used: Elliot, Amalfitano, Tavernier, Abeid.
SWANSEA CITY: Tremmel; Rangel, Monk, Williams, Davies; Dyer (Routledge, 62), Britton, de Guzman, Hernandez; Michu (Graham, 82); Shechter (Agustien, 66). Subs not used: Cornell, Flores, Moore, Tiendalli.
Goals: Michu 58, De Guzman 87, Ba 90
Booked: Shechter 9, Britton 26, Rangel 66, Santon 73
Attendance: 49,403 (1,000 Swansea)
Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)