Football: Mitrovic heaves Newcastle out of bottom three

NEWCASTLE, United Kingdom (AFP) - Serbian striker Aleksandar Mitrovic scored the only goal as Newcastle United beat West Bromwich Albion 1-0 on Saturday to escape from the Premier League relegation zone.

Mitrovic struck in the 32nd minute, finishing confidently from Jonjo Shelvey's pass, to earn Steve McClaren's side only a second win in nine league matches.

Newcastle, who had previously gone nine league games without a clean sheet, climb to 17th, with Norwich City dropping into the bottom three, while West Brom remain 14th, six points above the drop zone.

Beaten at Watford and Everton in their previous two games, Newcastle seemed revived by their return to St James' Park and immediately went for the jugular.

West Brom centre-back Gareth McAuley had to be alert to deny Georginio Wijnaldum in the second minute, before Ben Foster produced a brilliant double-save to thwart home debutant Andros Townsend and Mitrovic.

Cheick Tiote thought he had put the hosts ahead shortly before the half-hour when he beat Foster with a deflected shot, only for the home fans' celebrations to be cut short by an offside flag.

Mitrovic was the guilty party, having strayed into Foster's eyeline, but he atoned three minutes later by haring onto Shelvey's pass and coolly slotting in his fifth goal of the season.

It was no more than Newcastle deserved, but West Brom might have equalised just before half-time had the returning Steven Taylor not slid in to prevent James McClean taking aim from Craig Gardner's cut-back.

West Brom manager Tony Pulis made two bold half-time changes, sending on want-away striker Saido Berahino and loan signing Alex Pritchard for Sandro and Gardner.

But while Berahino had a shot blocked by Taylor, Newcastle continued to dominate.

Shelvey and Townsend had shots charged down, Wijnaldum headed over from six yards and the impressive Townsend saw an effort from just inside the box crash back into play off the base of the post.

It condemned the home fans to a nervous final few minutes and their fears were almost realised in stoppage time, only for Salomon Rondon to squander an opportunity to tee up Berahino for a certain equaliser.