Olympiakos (n) Friendly
24 mins Davide
Santon made progress down the United left and was eventually crowded out by a
pair of defenders at the expense of a corner. Romain Amalfitano's flag kick was
knocked on by Roy Carroll and although Dan Gosling knocked it goalbound, a
defender was first to react.
"It (the goal) put a smile on his (Steven Taylor's) face - you want confidence when you’re coming back from long-term injury. It’s not easy, and to get a goal will give him a lift.
“They’re all big players, but Steven
was very important to us in the first half of last season. He wasn’t
available for the second half of the season. The big thing for Steven is
very simple - he’s got to stay fit.
"I might give Yohan (Cabaye) 10 minutes. It depends on the mood of the game. If it’s a calm game, I’ll stick him out there, but he doesn’t really need it - it’s just about letting him have a little taste.
"Gael (Bigirimana) and Mehdi (Abeid) were good tonight, and Haris. In that midfield area, we gave as good as we got against a top European side. They can be very proud of themselves.
"I thought (Gabriel) Obertan was probably pick of the bunch – he made some real good thrusts – and there were a lot of positives. We’ll take that into the Braga game.
"I thought, particularly in the first half, we all played very well. They changed the team second half and brought on some fresh legs. That swayed the game a little bit towards them. They deserved an equaliser, I thought.
"I was really pleased with our performance. We had about eight players who did 90 minutes. It was very, very good. I was very pleased with everyone’s individual performance – I thought they all made an impact.
"It was a shame for Dan (Gosling). He got a little twist in his hip. He thought he could play his way through it, but he couldn’t."
United managed to add a bizarre footnote in their history at the Estadio Algarve on Friday night, contriving to end up honours even with their Greek foes, despite a penalty shootout!
The opening game of the XII Trofeo Guadiana between Olympiakos and Braga had ended 1-1 on Thursday night and despite tournament rules stating that spot kicks would decide a winner, the shootout was locked at 4-4 when the match referee called a halt to proceedings.
Fast forward 24 hours and the Greeks faced United in the second game of the tournament - which was to end in an identically farcical manner, adding another chapter to a set of friendlies which are now firmly in the twilight zone.
Things began well for Newcastle, with Alan Pardew making it from Thursday's Milk Cup Final loss in Northern Ireland to Faro for game #4 (and country #3) of our pre-season perambulations.
Shola Ameobi went close with a ninth minute header before Steven Taylor notched a comeback strike on his first appearance of 2012 after recovering from a ruptured Achilles. However, United were less than impressive as a forward unit and were forced into a change just after the half hour.
A free-kick in a central area was fired in at Tim Krul who saved uncomfortably with his legs and in clearing the ball Gosling pulled up with what looked like a hip problem - continuing briefly before making way for Mehdi Abeid.
The Greeks may possess a fragile economy, but their tackling tonight was at full throttle and they had already registered one booking when Shola Ameobi was blatantly fouled off the ball as he tried to join in an attack.
Staying down for treatment - although he
rightly refused to leave the field when an electric medical cart drove on to the
field - United's captain was then yellow-carded by the erratic referee for
querying the lack of a free kick.
After a quiet opening fifteen minutes, things started to liven up when Krul was forced into another save and then two substitutions saw Papiss Cisse and Sammy Ameobi take to the field while his brother departed along with Obertan - once again profligate and frustrating in equal measure.
What proved to be a decisive decision then came with 17 minutes to play, as Francois Modesto received his second yellow card and Olympiakos were reduced to ten men after a late challenge left Romain Amalfitano on the floor.
Unhappy with the decision and sauntering from the field, the Greek captain then ignored the request of the fourth official to vacate the bench and only departed down the tunnel when the referee stopped play and refused to restart until Modesto exited to the dressing room.
While a becalmed Newcastle proved unable to raise themselves, the Greek Champions though began to pose far of a threat and move the ball around to better effect. That lent a touch of inevitability to an eventual equaliser that was fitting punishment for an increasingly ragged toon display.
Stung by conceding and with the prospect of a spot kick shootout now looming, United almost regained the lead two minutes later through Cisse. His header from Amalfitano's cross was well saved and the number 9 then he hit the post with the follow-up before Amalfitano then found the side-netting from a tight angle, although by then the linesman had raised an offside flag.
Barring a couple of late runs down the United
right from Sammy Ameobi that promised much but delivered much save for one
half-chance for Cisse to shoot, the match then ended and proceeded straight to
First up was Cisse, but his casual approach hardly bred confidence and sure enough, he wellied the ball way over the goal and into the empty seating deck behind.
The Greeks then proceeded to tuck all of their first four efforts, but United kept pace with them thanks to decent finishes from messrs Vuckic, Amalfitano and Perch - the latter of whom retained his composure to convert after the referee had pulled him up in mid-take, when Krul encroached.
Having failed to get near the previous four
spot kicks he'd faced, the Newcastle 'keeper then did well to deny Andreas Tatos, before Abeid
stepped up to coolly tuck away his effort and leave the game drawn at 1-1 and
And as an added precaution, Alan Pardew may
wish to excuse 37 year-old Steve Harper from duty v Braga, given yet another
bizarre regulation separated the teams in the event of a tie by calculating the
mean age of the participating players and giving the winners trophy to the