Club Brugge 2
Newcastle United 2 (Anita 41, Shola 43)
A very decent performance by Newcastle tonight that was only blighted by two relatively soft goals.
The irony was that the two players most culpable were arguably the two stalwarts you’d put your money on in terms of reliability.
Newcastle had started ok and after just over ten minutes gone, Shola cleverly played in Obertan only for the keeper to make the save when maybe the French winger should have done much better.
Then in a repeat of Sunday at Anfield, a long ball over the top on 14 minutes saw Trickovski challenging for the ball with Coloccini and while the Brugge player carried some luck with how the ball fell, our captain will again be disappointed he was outdone on a one-on-one hopeful ball. His despairing block saw the ball go through his legs and give Krul no chance.
Barely five minutes later and a cross into the box resulted in a poor Tavernier clearance which went straight to the feet of Jorgensen just outside the box, his shot was accurate and right in the bottom corner but Krul showed his frustration as the ball had no pace on it and on any other day he would have comfortably saved.
The first real test for our ‘Europa team’ and to be fair they came through with flying colours. After the second goal Newcastle took hold of the match and passed it around well despite what looked a poor pitch. At times United were camped in their half and when Obertan crossed low from the left to Marveaux around eight yards out it looked a sure thing and it was, if the sure thing was swinging your boot and totally missing the ball!
As half-time approached Newcastle had been much the better team in terms of general play but had struggled to really test their keeper.
On 41 minutes that all changed though as Anita, who’d done well from right-back up and down the pitch, latched onto a poor clearance and volley first time a 25 yarder diagonally from right to left and the keeper nowhere.
No doubt Alan Pardew will replay the goals conceded a few times, reminding players what not to do…but even he will have been pleased at how both his experienced and not so experienced reacted.
As so often happens when you have such an eventful first forty five, the second will never match up to it and while Newcastle largely controlled proceedings it was without a cutting edge.
Shola went close with a couple of half chances while Marveaux cut in and hit a left foot curler just over, though it was the (after his surprise appearance on the bench) introduction of Yohan Cabaye that almost brought the win. A free-kick from the left that was very similar to Ryan ‘Over The Wall’ Taylor’s against Sunderland, this time hit the paintwork rather than dropping in, the keeper well beaten.
Krul redeemed himself with a couple of cracking saves while a soft but daft booking for Tiote now brings him a Europa League ban
The draw keeps United top of the group and a win at home to Maritimo in the next match would ensure qualification and possibly also a top of the group finish with a game to spare.
Club Brugge: Jorgacevic, Hogli, Hoefkens, Almeback, Jordi, Donk, Odjidja (Lagrou 81), Lestienne, Jorgensen, Trickovski (Tiote 46), Bacca
Newcastle United: Krul, Anita, Williamson (Steven Taylor 58), Coloccini, Tavernier, Bigirimana (Cabaye 72), Tiote, Sammy Ameobi (AMalfitano 83), Marveaux, Obertan, Shola Ameobi
Unused Subs: Elliot, Ferguson, Santon, Cisse
Ref: Luca Banti