Newcastle continue along road to Amsterdam

Posted by Marc Duffy

Newcastle United's hopes of winning a trophy for the first time since their Fairs Cup win of 1969 are still on track after an excellent 1-0 win in Kharkiv, Ukraine, over Metalist.

- Pardew: Newcastle can win Europa League
- Rann: Le Tissier stars for Toon raiders


A Shola Ameobi penalty midway through the second half of the second leg was enough to put the Magpies through and they thoroughly deserve their progression. Newcastle were undoubtedly the better team over the two legs and but for some terrible offside calls at St James' Park and some equally as poor finishing from Papiss Cisse, the margin of victory would have been greater.

The win puts Newcastle into the last 16 where they will face Guus Hiddink's Anzhi Makhachkala. The Russian billionaires disposed of Hannover in their round-of-32 match-up. Anzhi and their Cameroonian superstar Samuel Eto'o will provide Newcastle with a tougher test than Metalist did, that's for sure, but with Moussa Sissoko and Co already having an impact in Europe for Newcastle, the Geordie side stand a good chance of progression.

Anzhi currently sit in second place in the Russian Premier League, one place above Liverpool's Europa-conquerors Zenit. In the group stages Anzhi actually played Liverpool beating them 1-0 in Moscow, but losing 1-0 at Anfield. It is also worth noting that Anzhi haven't played a domestic game since December 10, which offers Newcastle some advantage, although neither had Zenit when they beat Liverpool in St Petersburg so that fact offers no guarantees.

Massaido Haidara made his Newcastle debut in Kharkiv on Thursday and based on his performance he could well prove to be another fantastic Graham Carr recommendation. He was very good. Tim Krul also deserves a mention for a string of superb saves in the last half hour as Metalist pushed forward looking for an equaliser.

It was great to hear positivity from Alan Pardew after the game. Too often we hear negative sound bites from him and many others in the English game about participation in the Europa League and the draining effect they believe it can have on league form.

Newcastle are in no position to turn their nose up at a potential route to a trophy and Pardew commented: "I really feel we can give this competition a good go now, we have found some heroes out there tonight..."

Now Newcastle have only a few days to get back to Tyneside and recover for the vital relegation battle with Southampton at St James' Park on Sunday. Newcastle fielded a very strong side in Ukraine but with the new strength-in-depth they have fresh players hoping to be involved. A win against Saints is an absolute must with both sides only four points outside of the relegation zone.

Krul left the Metalist Oblast Sports Complex on crutches after picking up an ankle injury late in the game. I am hoping this was a precautionary measure because Tim can be the difference between a win and a loss, as he proved Thursday night and many times before.

Bring on the Saints.

Twitter: @MarcSDuffy

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