Cisse's disallowed goals a real shame

Posted by Marc Duffy

Newcastle United entered their first European game of 2013 rejuvenated by several new signings and a recent upturn in form. Their opponents, Ukraine's fourth-place side Metalist Kharkiv, lost their best player Taison to domestic rivals Shakhtar Donetsk in the January transfer window, and before Thursday hadn't kicked a ball in anger for nine weeks due to a lengthy winter break.

So a win for Newcastle was a formality, right? Of course not - nothing is as straight forward as that when Newcastle are involved. The officials played a big part in the result, too.

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With no game this weekend, manager Alan Pardew opted to field a strong team looking to give Newcastle a solid platform going into the return leg in Kharkiv next Thursday, only three days before the big relegation clash with Southampton. The 0-0 result means Pardew will either have to risk fielding a strong team again only days before a must-win league game or hope the second string can pull off the unlikely.

There were a couple of surprises in the lineup -- a first start for Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, but in the relatively unfamiliar position of right back and yet another start for Davide Santon, who many assumed would be rested.

After a slow start, the first chance fell to Gabriel Obertan. Sissoko, who started on the right, passed inside to Obertan who cut inside of two men and fired a tame shot wide of keeper Oleksandr Goryainov's right-hand post.

The 30,000-plus Newcastle fans were outsung by the 500 or so Metalist supporters who had made the long journey from Northern Ukraine. While I welcome Europa League involvement, the atmosphere is so far removed from the Champions League it is barely comparable -- often the quieter Europa atmosphere leads to a slower, less-exciting game and this was the case at times Thursday.

Newcastle should have been ahead in the 23rd minute. Obertan played a lovely through ball to Moussa Sissoko, who squared to Papiss Cisse and Papiss scored. The linesman raised his flag and the goal was chalked off despite Sissoko being several yards onside when the initial pass was made. An awful, amateurish decision that could be very costly to Newcastle.

Tim Krul made a great save from a Cleiton Xavier header before Cisse's now-weekly miss on a brilliant chance. A fantastic Yohan Cabaye through-ball set him clear of the back four, but Cisse fired straight at the keeper. His form is a major concern.

Metalist had two chances in the first five minutes of the second half as Newcastle came out of the blocks slowly, as they have in most second periods this season.

Sylvain Marveaux replaced Obertan just after the hour mark. Obertan was unnecessarily jeered by a few in the home crowd -- something I don't understand at all.

Newcastle pressed as the half went on -- a goalmouth scramble ended with a Cisse offside, then Marveaux overran the ball when running through on goal, but the Metalist keeper was not tested.

To rule out one perfectly good goal with a poor decision at this level is one thing, but to rule out two is quite another and that's exactly what happened when Cisse yet again had a goal disallowed on 73. This one was closer than the first but replays showed Cisse was not ahead of his man.

Inept officials could cost Newcastle their place in the next round and that is not acceptable, but unfortunately there is nothing at all Newcastle can do about it. The more paranoid locals were shouting about match-fixing after the recent revelations about competitions around Europe!

Pardew threw on Shola Ameobi in an attempt at winning in the 79th minute, but it wasn't to be. The last notable action was an absolutely preposterous dive in the penalty area by Willian, who was booked.

So Newcastle now have a 4,000-mile round-trip days ahead of a vital Premier League fixture. Progression will be very difficult as I can't see as strong a team taking the field in Ukraine. The officials errors Thursday could prove to be very costly indeed and that is hugely frustrating.

Twitter: @MarcSDuffy

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