NEWCASTLE manager Alan Pardew praised the immediate impact made by new signing Moussa Sissoko as his side earned a crucial 2-1 win at fellow Premier League strugglers Aston Villa.
Sissoko, a £2million capture from Toulouse, set up the opening goal for Papiss Cisse with a perfectly weighted pass and generally impressed in his central midfield slot.
Yohan Cabaye's stunning 20-yard strike increased the Magpies' lead before the break and all Villa could manage during a stirring second-half fightback was Christian Benteke's penalty.
Pardew, who also gave a debut to another French player in Yoan Gouffran, was surprised at how quickly the newcomers slotted in as Newcastle chalked up their first away win of 2012-2013.
He said: "When you are looking for players and trying to find the secret ingredient for your team, it's not always easy for players to come and fit in as they did in the first half.
"I was a little bit surprised myself if I'm honest. I don't think we would have won the game without Sissoko.
"He really grabbed the game by the horns and that's what we needed.
"It was a terrific day for us because we were under a lot of pressure to win at Villa."
Villa have dropped into the bottom three for the third time this season. Manager Paul Lambert slammed his side for a lethargic opening.
He said: "We paid the price for starting too slowly. We just never got going in the first half."