Newcastle v Club Brugge – Match Report
Newcastle United 1 (Obertan 48)
Club Brugge 0
Newcastle now sit pretty at the top of the group with seven points and one foot already in the knockout stages, thanks to great work by Sammy Ameobi and a rare head down and smash it from Gabriel Obertan.
Newcastle started the match with one of the strongest benches in the club’s history; Ben Arfa, Coloccini, Ba, Cabaye and Krul on hand to help in the event of an emergency.
As it happens it was the introduction of Shola after half-time that made Newcastle look a better team as he gave Cisse support and the formation being more fluid than in the opening forty five.
United did ok in the first half and if after Ferguson’s pinpoint cross Cisse had put a point blank header away, rather than hitting the keeper, we might have seen more from the team layout that Alan Pardew started with.
Cisse played alone up front with Obertan on the left and Sammy Ameobi on the right, with a midfield three of Tiote, Anita and Bigirimana.
Ameobi the younger showed decent skill at times in beating his man but often ended up trying to do too much and it coming to nothing, no surprise him trying a bit too hard to impress after getting his chance to play again. The three midfielders gave next to no support up front as overall Bigirimana did ok in his usual busy style but Cheick Tiote gave the ball away on numerous occasions, I feel at times that against weaker teams he thinks he can boss it a bit too easily which leads to complacency.
Unfortunately, Vurnon Anita is clearly struggling to get up to speed at the moment and he has to be given time to find himself in our squad. As a midfielder he seems to struggle to impose himself and his recovery speed when tracking back was a bit reminiscent of Des Hamilton!
The experiment of Obertan on the left looks a short lived one, after setting up Shola against Bordeaux and a few other encouraging moments he was back to his infuriating worst in the first half. Time after time Ferguson would support from left-back and after swapping passes give the Frenchman a chance to create but pretty much every time Obertan passed the buck back. Luckily Ferguson is the player doing more than any of our younger players to give the manager something to think about. His willingness to take on AND beat his opponent is giving Newcastle one of their main threats in cup matches when the fringe/younger players are getting their chance.
Harper made a couple of decent saves but was largely unemployed, while Taylor commanded the back with Perch filling in well alongside him, his versatility something that we are now taking for granted.
Santon was moved over to the right to accommodate the manager’s formation and while Tiote’s slapdash approach to weaker opposition handicaps him, the Italian full-back strides majestically around the pitch. So comfortable on the ball, strong and quick, it will surely be only a matter of time before he adds to teh Italian caps he won as a teenager.
Three minutes into the second-half and with both Ameobis on the pitch together, Sammy rode a couple of tackles as Newcastle counter-attacked, for once he had an end product as he just got to the ball first in the centre circle before being cynically fouled, the ball played to Obertan with the Belgians outnumbered, for once Obertan made straight for goal before unleashing a powerful shot into the far corner from the edge of the box.
With a goal behind them and Shola giving us more presence up front, Newcastle knocked the ball around well without really looking like adding to the solitary goal.
Newcastle saw the match out comfortably although it took a last gasp intervention from Steven Taylor in the dying seconds with Harper beaten, to see the three points safely tucked away.
Alan Pardew reflected on another productive European night;
We knew we had a chance of making it seven points with a win and that really bodes well. We’ve still got Maritimo to play at home and they did us a bit of a favour tonight (drawing with Bordeaux).
We’ve got two difficult away matches though (Brugge/Bordeaux) and we’re probably going to have to get something in one of those games. Brugge showed us enough here to suggest it is not going to be easy over at their place”.
Newcastle United: Harper, Santon, Steven Taylor, Perch, Ferguson (Cabaye 81), Bigirimana, Tiote, Anita (Shola 46), Obertan, Cisse, Sammy Ameobi (Coloccini 73)
Unused Subs: Krul, Ben Arfa, Campbell, Ba
Club Brugge: Jorgacevic, Hogli, Hoefkens, Jordi, Buyesse, Odjidja, Blondel (Van Acker 83), Jorgensen, Refaelov, Bacca, Lestienne
Referee: Martin Hansson (Sweden)
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