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Newcastle back on track as Schar double sinks Villa

<a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/soccer/teams/newcastle-united/" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Newcastle;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Newcastle</a> defender Fabian Schar scores against <a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/soccer/teams/aston-villa/" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Aston Villa;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Aston Villa</a> (Adrian DENNIS)

Newcastle ended their four-game losing streak in the Premier League as Fabian Schar's double inspired a 3-1 win against Aston Villa on Tuesday.

Switzerland centre-back Schar struck twice in the space of four minutes late in the first half at Villa Park.

Alex Moreno's second half own goal increased Newcastle's advantage and Ollie Watkins' reply came too late to spark a Villa escape act.

For the first time since beating Fulham on December 16, Eddie Howe's side were able to celebrate three points, although they managed victories in the FA Cup against Sunderland and Fulham during their winless league run.

Newcastle are up to seventh place as they try to salvage European qualification from a difficult season.

"It was mixed emotions for me because that is an elite team. The mixed part is that we haven't seen that for a number of weeks. We looked much more like ourselves," Howe said.

"We knew all eyes were on us. We've been on a disappointing run in the Premier League, especially away from home. It was a big result."

The defeat was a major blow to fourth placed Villa's unexpected title challenge, leaving Unai Emery's men five points behind leaders Liverpool, who have a game in hand.

It was Villa's first home league defeat in 17 matches since losing to Arsenal in February 2023.

Villa have boasted the Premier League's best home record so far this season.

But Newcastle thrashed them 5-1 at St James' Park at the start of the campaign and once again they were too strong for Emery's team.

"It's a little frustrating. Today we have to accept because they deserve it. Newcastle's power is in the set pieces. The first 60 minutes, they were better," Emery said.

- Moreno misery -

With the transfer deadline looming on Thursday, Newcastle have seen Miguel Almiron, Callum Wilson and Kieran Tripper all linked with moves, while Howe does not expect to make any signings.

Against that troubling backdrop, Howe will have been encouraged by his side's much-needed victory.

Emiliano Martinez rescued Villa when Anthony Gordon burst through on goal, the Argentine keeper standing his ground to repel the Newcastle forward's shot.

Lacking their usual cohesion, Villa took nearly half an hour to land their first shot on target, but Matty Cash's strike lacked the power to beat Martin Dubravka.

Newcastle seized the lead in the 32nd minute when Trippier's corner looped into the six-yard box, where Schar held off Ezri Konsa and stretched to guide his shot past Martinez.

The Magpies struck again four minutes later as another Trippier corner was only cleared to Gordon, whose deflected shot hit the bar and bounced off Martinez before  Schar applied the finishing touch from close-range.

The gloss was taken off Newcastle's dream half when Isak limped off just before the break.

Villa midfielder John McGinn was inches away from reducing the deficit with a header that flashed just over.

But Newcastle put the result beyond doubt in the 52nd minute.

Almiron's low cross was prodded goalwards by Jacob Murphy and Moreno's sliding attempt to block only succeeded in diverting the ball into his own net.

Adding to Moreno's misery, the Villa defender was left with a painful injury in a particularly sensitive area after he collided with the post during his failed bid to clear.

Watkins got one back in the 71st minute with a sliding close-range finish from Leon Bailey's cross for his first goal in seven games.

smg/iwd