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Match Reports

Benfica v Newcastle United – Match Report

8 years ago
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Benfica 3 Newcastle United 1
Thursday 4 April 8.05pm

Alan Pardew declared himself ‘overjoyed with the performance but not the result’, certainly for the first twenty five minutes Newcastle were easily the better team.

I can see Newcastle possibly scoring the two goals they need at St.James’ Park but on the other hand I can’t see Benfica not scoring at least once as well.

The manager also believes that winning against Fulham is vital if Newcastle are to take momentum into the Benfica second leg and the rest of the season.

I think he could be right. if three points are banked against Fulham then I can see Newcastle having a right go at Benfica and Alan Pardew prepared to risk the odd player returning from injury. Anything less that a win against Fulham and I can only see the match against the mackems taking on monumental importance and the Benfica second leg suffering.

For any neutrals out there though, last night was compelling stuff.

The first half was a game of…two halves.

Newcastle made an immaculate start and apart from one long range strike which the wet surface made tricky for Krul, Newcastle were on top and Cisse could have done better with two early half chances.

However, he made no mistake in the twelfth minute when a sublime Simpson pass put Sissoko away down the right and his perfectly executed low cross was lashed in from close range by the Senegalese forward.

Cisse was then a whisker away from doubling the lead as Gutierrez got away down the left and cut the ball back, Cisse didn’t make the best of contacts but Artur got the smallest of fingertips which saw the ball squirm against the post and the keeper grabbed it on the line.

On twenty five minutes though we saw the attacking strength of the home side as a sweeping move ended with a Cardozo shot that Krul could only parry, Rodrigo slipping in the rebound.

The next twenty minutes saw Benfica turning the screw and Newcastle struggle to get decent possession in the opposition half, with United indebted to Tim Krul who made a series of excellent saves to keep it level at half-time.

Second half saw Newcastle again first out of the traps and a perfect Marveaux through ball put Cisse in, his touch over the keeper looked like putting United back in front, only to bounce cruelly back off the post. Crucial.

Newcastle then began to struggle as they were forced back and mistakes crept in. Mapou lost out to Rodrigo and his squared ball should have been finished off by Cardoza, only to slide wide.

We were then treated to two moments of sheer madness within six minutes of each other.

Firstly, Santon under pressure plays a blind back pass straight to Lima, who expertly rounds Krul and slides it into the next from wide right.

Worse to come though as Sissoko and Taylor get in each other’s way and while Sissoko falls to the floor, Taylor sticks out a daft arm, luckily the referee is unsighted but the ridiculous extra official behind the goal who never ever does anything…apparently does.

Despite the penalty having to be retaken Cardoza puts it away again with supreme confidence.

A very good overall performance marred by a bit of bad luck and two real own goals, Newcastle still in the tie though.

The comforting thing was undoubtedly the number of chances Newcastle managed to create and on another night Papiss Cisse would have been taking the ball home as well as three points for United.

A goal early on at St.James’ and it will be some atmosphere.

Benfica: Artur, Almeida, Luisao, Garay, Melgarejo, Gaitan, Matic, Gomes (Perez 61), Rodrigo (Lima 61), Cardozo (Pereira 77), John

Newcastle United: Krul, Simpson (Gosling 83), Mapou, Taylor, Santon, Perch (Anita 61), Cabaye, Marveaux (Shola 81), Sissoko, Gutierrez, Cisse

Unused Subs: Elliot, Williamson, Obertan, Campbell

Ref: Antony Gautier (France)

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