Newcastle To Be Cheated Out Of Heroic Failure?
Are we happy with the result in Lisbon or do we feel disappointed? Predictably I’m somewhere in between but ultimately I’m still left with a horrible feeling about Thursday night’s game in the pit of my stomach.
The reason for that is that we did a lot right. Most the difficult stuff too. All the decent enough defending, kept the ball reasonably well and attacked well when we could. Each one of those things however was all missing something.
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The finishing touch of a team with real and genuine quality or belief. For example, we attacked devastatingly for our first goal. Great ball by Danny Simpson, great cross by Moussa Sissoko and Cissé was Johnny on the spot to finish it. The next few times however we did all the hard stuff right in the build up, then missed the chance to capitalise. Talk about lady luck not being on our side all you like but Cissé had to score one of the other two chances. Had to. If (and I know it’s a big if) then we are 3 – 1 up at the start of the second half. Different game totally. The Benfica fans would have got on the players backs and the vultures would have been circling, never mind the eagle.
Take those two chances away, a 1 – 1 result would still have been great. An away goal and having watched them play, so being aware of their high line, would have given us a real chance to score at home and then progress. Needless to say, it’s never that simple at NUFC.
Whilst ball retention wasn’t fantastic throughout, there were periods when we did it quite well. Most importantly it didn’t lead to anything too negative. Cue Davide Santon. Unfortunately for him he panicked, possibly as a consequence of missing a game or two, then put us in trouble. For all the hard work he and everyone else had put in, it was one error which cost us. I must add at this point, Santon is great going forward and a real threat, but his defensive side really needs some maturity if we are to have a long term quality player on our hands.
Then it’s back to pressing the self destruct button. Stevie Taylor who’s been magnificent recently has a brain fart. He’s not helped by Moussa Sissoko doing his best to fall out of the way in front of him though. Either way, sticking his hand out in the manner he did is daft in the extreme, as was the holding of his gentleman vegetables after the event. All I will say is the ref didn’t see it, and in all my time watching football I’ve never seen one of the goal line assistants or whatever they’re called make a decision like that.
He’s not wrong to do so mind, and it is a pen. It’s just very frustrating.
Having come so close and had the chances to achieve something amazing, we couldn’t help ourselves mess it up. Having had that happen to us though, parts of our performance do give me some confidence. Whilst Benfica played well they weren’t outstanding and their defence isn’t great. We seriously tested a side who’ve not lost at home since October 2012 and that was to Barcelona. We were the architects of our own downfall too, not put to the sword because of their qualities. If we can create chances at their place then surely we can do it at ours too.
Sometimes, I have a nagging feeling about how things are going to go. I’m sure we all do. I had a feeling that we would get to Amsterdam. Not win the tournament but get to the final. Classic heroic failure stuff, or classic Newcastle as I prefer to think of it. Perhaps I’m still to be proved right, but more than likely not. I think we’ve probably got too much to do. There’s hope but not quite enough likelihood of it happening sadly.
I remember reading a match report from NUFC.com after the Aston Villa game that preceded Sir Bobby losing his job. Their final line of that report was something like: “This game encapsulated everything about Bobby’s tenure at NUFC. The promise and hope of something magical, eventually undone by one mistake too many”. I’d imagine they can wheel out pretty much the same paragraph as they did back then for Thursday night’s analysis. It sums it up perfectly. NUFC’s final paragraph of the Bobby era didn’t just encapsulate his time in toon, but life as an NUFC fan in general I think, as did Thursday night’s match.
Let’s hope we can buck the trend this once eh……
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