Newcastle United – How We Won The Cup/Bridge
Newcastle 2 (Ba 63, Ryan Taylor 73)
SC Braga 1
They say it’s not how you start it’s how you finish and that works on a lot of levels when talking about this Portuguese jaunt.
Ryan Taylor’s near thirty yard up and over the wall with added curl, was fit to win any match, never mind this lame excuse for a pre-season ‘tournament’.
However, around five or six hundred people will be able to say ‘I was there’ when Raylor let fly once again with a trademark special.
As a means of taking the players another step closer to match fitness you can’t argue the three team tournament has served a purpose, though of course you can say that about any pre-season match. However, as a way expanding Newcastle’s fanbase or the commercial side, it has to be seen as a very dead duck.
The near deserted stadium on both nights tells you that story and I can’t see there been much money in the pot to be shared between the three teams, even though those of you sitting at home could watch from your armchairs thanks to ESPN covering both matches live (Highlights of the Braga win shown 1.30pm on ESPN if you missed the match or want to enjoy Raylor’s raker again).
Only in the final half hour did the Braga match open up, Marveaux cutting into the box with an injection of pace and upended by a reckless challenge, though it was definitely more the French winger winning the penalty with a bit of flair rather than the defender at fault.
Ba saw his spot-kick saved but showed total composure to volley in the rebound, game on at last.
The opening hour had seen precious few chances despite Alan Pardew lining up with an attacking looking eleven and keeping substitutions to a minimum. Cisse though looks like he has carried on where he left off last season in terms of never looking like his next goal is far away. He linked up well with Ba several times but sheer weight of numbers tended to get in the way, though one lovely ball knocked diagonally into the box saw Cisse just fail to connect.
That was shortly followed by a howler from Papiss Cisse as Simpson did very well to get down the right and to the line where he cut it back perfectly, only for the Senegalese striker to forget all his schoolboy coaching and lean so far back that he lifted it miles over the bar from only ten yards out.
That was about it and the lack of substitutions at half-time showed Pardew’s intention to treat it as a full on game and following Ba’s opener it looked like Sammy Ameobi had sealed the victory five minutes later. Coloccini’s header touched in by Sammy but he was correctly judged offside.
Our opponents instantly countered at pace and when the ball was played across the box, Ruben Amorim hit a weak shot from just inside the area that took a marginal Coloccini deflection which trickled past Harper’s foot after his Christmas Tree style dive. Much like Rob Elliot’s poor effort when Fenerbahce equalised, I can’t believe Tim Krul wouldn’t have stopped that one, I think we have a massive weakness in the position if anything happens to the talented Dutchman.
We then saw the welcome return of Yohan Cabaye as on 72 minutes he replaced Cheick Tiote, who had had one of his totally committed but not very productive nights.
A minute later and the substitution had obviously worked as Ba went down nearly 30 yards from goal and Ryan Taylor stepped forward to hit a beauty which left Beto in the Braga goal, motionless.
We still had time to see Luis strike the post after Coloccini’s slip, a sending off for Braga’s Douglao and a fine move ending up with Cabaye’s volley tipped brilliantly away by Beto.
The last half hour saw better play all round and that allowed Newcastle’s play to get back in the flow, with Marveaux getting much more involved as United started knocking it around. Both Marveaux and Sammy Ameobi could be crucial this season, especially with the extra demands of the Europa League, and the good news on both of them is that they look ready to step up.
So Newcastle will now take home the very fetching trophy, the design of which is based on a bridge linking Portugal to Spain. A fitting end to this tournament.
(Thanks to Tony Stephenson for the photos)
Newcastle United: Steve Harper, Danny Simpson, Fabricio Coloccini, James Tavernier, Ryan Taylor, Sammy Ameobi (Gabriel Obertan 88), Cheick Tiote (Yohan Cabaye 72), Jonas Gutierrez, Sylvain Marveaux, Papiss Cisse, Demba Ba (Haris Vuckic 86)
Subs not used: Tim Krul, James Perch, Mike Williamson, Paul Dummett, Steven Taylor, Davide Santon, Gael Bigirimana, Mehdi Abeid, Romain Amalfitano, Shola Ameobi
SC Braga: Beto, Baiano, Douglao, Paulo Vinicius, Luis Alberto, Ruben Amorim, Carlao, Paulo Cesar, Ismaily, Manoel, Djamal
Referee: Paulo Batista
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