Substitute Haris Vuckic found space to receive Danny Simpson's throw in from
the right flank and swivelled to hook a left-footed shot goalwards from the edge
of the Atromitos area in front of a semi-populated Leazes End.
effort took a deflection en route to goal off Matias Iglesias and that was
enough to bamboozle his own goalkeeper Charles Itandje, who seemed distracted by
Demba Ba - although the United striker didn't make contact with the ball as he
slid in on goal.
Newcastle 1 Atromitos 0
Full time: Newcastle 1 Atromitos 0
Alan Pardew said:
"We took a bit of a risk with our selection, but we did enough.
"It just goes to show you the
pressure of competition as it looks like Ryan Taylor has suffered a bad
knock today. So I'll have to speak to the chairman tonight and we might have
to think about bringing a player in on the back of that
injury. Unfortunately when you get these games these type of things
happen to you. I feel sorry for Ryan because he's a terrific player and I
really hope its not as bad as we fear.
"I haven't seen it if I am honest (the first half penalty appeal by
Atromitos). I thought overall the game should have been over before we
even got to half time, we had some fantastic chances in those first 40
minutes where we played really really well.
"But like anything in Europe it just goes to show you that if the
referee had given a penalty and sent Tim off suddenly we've got a different
game. Its a knife-edger in any game, whether its an FA Cup game or a League
Cup game, they are very close affairs but I thought we just did enough to
"Haris (Vuckic) has got
great technical ability and I'm pleased he got his goal because he's one of
the favourites in the dressing room.
"For us, Andy Carroll was a political move that perhaps wasn't going to
fall our way.
"You have to pay a lot of respect to Mike (Ashley), we've had a
couple of phone calls during the window and we could have cashed in on a
couple of our players but he didn't and I thank him for that and our fans
should thank him too."
Dusan Bajevic (Olympiakos
boss when United beat them in the 2004/05 UEFA Cup) said:
"It was a game of two different halves. In the first we
pressed enough, but we did not have the proper overlap and made several
mistakes. In the second half, we had two very good chances but could not score.
"We tried and pushed. We played well
and I must say congratulations to my players. My players stood very well against
Newcastle and in the second half we were better than the opponent.
I am very sorry for the players who gave
all. There were two penalty not given and we could get a better result. I wish
good luck to Newcastle.
"This game is our guide for the future.
Now, we must continue to work hard and to get even better in the future.
Atromitos later confirmed that they had sent a letter of complaint to UEFA over
their failure to be awarded a penalty kick. Good luck with that.
Vuckic became Newcastle's 57th different goalscorer in
competitive European fixtures (not counting OGs and penalty shootouts)
and along with Danny Simpson, Fabricio Coloccini and Demba
Ba he made his debut in European competition for United.
Notching his first competitive goal for the club - and the first
by a Slovenian - Haris now takes his name off the list of outfield
players still to break their senior NUFC scoring duck.
Remaining on there are messrs Abeid, Amalfitano, Anita, Bigirimana,
Campbell, Ferguson, Perch, Santon, Tavernier and Williamson - the
latter now on a 75 game barren run.
United in Europe - all time
(not including penalty shootouts):
Played: 122 Won: 70 Drawn: 23
Lost: 29 Goals for: 210 Goals against: 120
Hatem Ben Arfa served the second game of his three game ban.
NUFC are now unbeaten on Tyneside in their last eight home European fixtures - since a 2-1 win for Spaniards Deportivo la
Coruna eliminated us from the Intertoto Cup in 2005.
And not including that now-defunct
competition, United haven't lost on home soil since Partizan Belgrade
upset our Champions League qualification hopes in 2003 with a 1-0 win
that set them up to eliminate us on penalties. That's a total of 19
games undefeated - 16 wins and three draws.
Atromitos became the only second
Greek side to play a competitive fixture on Tyneside, after rivals
Olympiakos (managed by current Atromitos boss Dusan Bajevic) were
soundly beaten here 4-0 back in March 2005. Due to the differing format of the
UEFA Cup Group Stage that season, ties weren't played on a home and
away basis and United faced Panionios just once - in Greece.
The Magpies debuted their new lime-coloured
third kit in this tie, coinciding with its release date.
it may or may not have been inspired by a)
the quayside link buses or b) Lemsip.
goalkeeper may have gone to the same barber as Mister T but it certainly wasn't
an A Team that threatened Newcastle's progression to the group stages at
St.James' Park on Thursday night.
Having had Ryan Taylor to thank for sparing their blushes in the energy-sapping
heat of Athens, United continued to make heavy weather of their task in the
more tolerable Tyneside temperatures and were ultimately grateful to a Swiss
referee who twice raised doubts over his neutrality.
Stephan Suder reacted to a spot kick appeal from the visitors in each half by
booking their players for simulation on both occasions - the first of which
seemed a remarkably lenient decision when reviewing with the benefit of TV
That came at the end of a first half in which United had lost the services of
their first leg scorer but found the net thanks to Haris Vuckic. The Slovenian
had appeared as an early replacement for Ryan Taylor, who caught his studs in
the turf and sustained knee ligament damage that will sideline him for some
months - the obvious pain he was in led to little doubts as to the severity of
Failing to build on that advantage though, Alan Pardew's side were almost made
to pay two minutes before the interval. First leg goalscorer Denis Epstein was
allowed to shoot on goal from distance and when Tim Krul failed to hold it,
Brazilian midfielder Chumbinho reacted first and took the ball around the
'keeper before tumbling under some hand to boot contact.
Studer ran towards the incident and yellow carded Chumbinho to the relief of
the home fans and Krul who looked to be fearing the worst - a penalty and
a red card.
With a second enforced change coming after the break when James Perch departed
with a neck problem, United proved unable to conjure up a second goal as the
second half wore on. Itandje atoned for his earlier hesitancy by denying
Sylvain Marveaux, Gabriel Obertan and Ba, while the quality of our crossing and
set pieces left much to be desired.
Chances were fewer in the second period but it was one that fell to Dimoutsos
that should have at least taken the tie to extra-time when the ball spun off
Marveaux invitingly only for the visiting player to hit his shot wide of Krul's
Studer then disciplined Nikola Bejic after his 85th minute run into the box saw
him swerve past Coloccini and take a step before tumbling theatrically over - a
more clear-cut booking than the one for Chumbinho coming after the referee
consulted a linesman.
There were a few more nervy moments for our defence before Alan Pardew was able
to celebrate his first-ever managerial success in European competition, both
Dan Gosling and Marveaux shooting wildly over when well-placed late on.
A case of job done then, despite having tempted fate by launching a new Euro
kit on matchday - something which NUFC had also done back in 2003, when the
silver/grey number went on sale just hours after Partizan Belgrade had ousted
us from the Champions League.
Some squad rotation saw a total of nineteen players get pitch time over the two
legs, another three regular starters watch both legs from the bench, a quartet
be unavailable due to injury and one more suspended.
At times though, we looked like a team of strangers - something that can only
be improved upon by playing together more often. Whether that increased
familiarity will result in an outbreak of quality in future cup fixtures though
remains to be seen. Obertan will never enjoy more time and space than he did
here but his delivery remained frustratingly random, while it's difficult to
recall much that Marveaux achieved.
In terms of support to Demba Ba we clearly have a long way to go, with
tonight's performance from Gosling doing nothing to allay our suspicions that
he's barely competent at this level and that's one gamble that is just destined
not to pay out.
Putting aside those gripes though, cup football is all about the result and
this display was forgotten within 24 hours, after the group stage draw landed
us with a trio of beatable opponents within reasonable travelling distance.
Plenty of time for practice there then.