Newcastle United v Anzhi – Match Report
European matches are often a totally different proposition to the Premier League and so it proved last night at St.James’ Park.
An edgy first half with Cisse isolated and a confident opposition who were well on top.
At times like this you sometimes just need to hang on in there and that’s what Newcastle did. Whenever United committed any number of players forward in that opening period, Anzhi looked capable of scoring when they quickly counter-attacked.
With three Europa League clean sheets in a row, Rob Elliot must be walking tall, though while he did everything asked of him last night, Newcastle were lucky that the visitors didn’t have their shooting boots on.
Papiss Cisse will be the name that makes the headlines with his dramatic last gasp header from a perfect Marveaux cross. However, Steven Taylor made a handful of first half blocks that made the fairytale ending possible.
In fact Taylor and Mapou, apart from one rush of blood near half-time, played really well as a partnership and helped keep things together as Anzhi threatened.
Alan Pardew tinkered with his personnel and tactics but early on his team struggled to create anything, as the Russians showed what a good team they are after the farce on that pitch in Moscow.
If the visitors had scored a deserved goal from those first half opportunities then I’d have seen no way that Newcastle could have scored two…but they didn’t, so we didn’t have to.
Ironically, Newcastle got their first foothold in the match when Jonas came on for playmaker Yohan Cabaye, who looked to be trying to cover for everybody while he was on the pitch, fingers crossed he’s ok.
When Cabaye went off after seemingly stretching for a ball, Jonas initially played in the middle and Newcastle started to have a bit of decent possession for the remaining eight or so minutes of that first half.
After the break Jonas went wide left and Newcastle looked to have better balance, though you have to accept the real turning point was Carcela-Gonzalez’ nasty second yellow when he caught Haidara. It was then possession Newcastle but while they dominated the ball, Newcastle also struggled to make the keeper work.
Marveaux and Santon had looked perhaps our biggest hope wide on the right and in the last second of the match the French midfielder put a lovely cross right on the head of Cisse for another late winner after his effort v Stoke,
The fact the winner came only a few minutes after Anzhi had struck the woodwork from what looked a harsh free-kick, made it all the better.
A gripping night and a great result.
The appearance of Adam Campbell was interesting and courageous because if things had turned out differently then questions would no doubt have been asked. When Campbell came onto the pitch he was greeted by warm applause and helped lift the crowd up another notch.
I’ve always said it, whenever everybody is pulling together at Newcastle United there are few limits to what can be achieved.
Newcastle United: Elliot, Santon, Taylor, Mapou, Haidara, Anita (Campbell 71), Tiote, Cabaye (Jonas 37), Marveaux, Cisse, Sissoko
Unused Subs: Harper, Perch, Bigirimana, Obertan, Shola
Anzhi: Gabulov, Eschenko, Ewerton, Carlos, Zhirkov, Ahmedov, Diarra (Shatov 74), Jucilei, Boussoufa, Eto’o, Carcela-Gonzalez
Ref: Deniz Aytekin (Germany)
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