Kieron Dyer took advantage
of a defensive blunder, sprinting onto a wayward header before advancing
into the box before nutmegging 'keeper Ricardo on his near post.
Romanian strike Niculae
headed past Given after Titus Bramble had only managed to flick
on a cross from the right.
Half time: Sporting 1 Newcastle 1
An O'Brien miskick
fell to Barbosa and when his shot was parried by Given, Sa Pinto
nipped in to tap in the rebound.
Beto climbed unopposed to head
home the third six minutes later from a
Carr made an awful blunder to allow
Rochemback to tuck the ball past Given.
Full time: Sporting
4 Newcastle 1
Manager Graeme Souness said:
"I think we did an okay job in the
circumstances. I know that 4-1 doesn't look like a great scoreline but look at
what happened here. We looked good after scoring the first goal but we missed
too many chances."
"We are very disappointed. We felt that things conspired against us.
"We had some golden opportunities to kill them off, and then we started to lose
our better players with Jenas coming off at half-time, Titus coming off and then
Kieron Dyer, who had been a real threat during the game, coming off.
"We must not feel sorry for ourselves."
"We had some boys out there doing men's jobs - it shows how thin our squad is
but there's nothing we can do about it. We just have to take it on the chin and
make sure we prepare properly for what will be a very difficult game at the
"If we had managed to keep our starting XI on the pitch I wouldn't be sitting
here telling this story - it would be a much different story. But that is what
happened. We took some risks with players and it didn't pay off."
Goalscorer Dyer said:
If you concede four goals in any match, you don't deserve
to win anything. We were comfortable but then we just blew a gasket. We shot
ourselves in the foot and only have ourselves to blame.
"The bookmakers had us
down as favourites but the defending was not good enough and it cost us
dearly in the end. We have just got to pick ourselves up quickly and improve
considerably and hopefully get the rub of the green."
Sporting boss Jose Peseiro said:
"Yes, but we have won
nothing yet. We are just in the semi-final of an important European
"We are among the best
in Europe and I am very proud of this victory, but if it was not for the
players, if it was not for this great club, I would not be here today."
Shay Given recovered in time to
extend the club European appearances record to 51.
Our worst ever away defeat in European competition and our
biggest reverse anywhere in the UEFA Cup. Our only other 1-4 loss came
at SJP against Inter Milan in the 2002/03 Champs League campaign.
Third visit to this stadium, but the first one since it was
totally rebuilt for Euro 2004. Previously we drew 1-1 with Sporting
and lost 1-3 to Setubal here in the 1968/69 Fairs Cup run.
So, that light at the end of the tunnel did turn out
to be a train coming towards us after all.
What was widely assumed to be our best chance of cup progression dissolved
in the Alvalade Stadium on Thursday, amid a welter of injuries and
And while the travelling supporters tried in vain to lift the team in a
second half in which our shortcomings were laid bare, behind them in the
posh seats sat Laurent Robert - merely the latest in a long line of talented
players to have let those fans down.
Freddy Shepherd and co. may well feel rightly aggrieved by the continuing
misadventures of his richly-rewarded charges, but that's nothing to the
disillusionment of the rank and file who pay through the nose to watch them.
Tyneside wardrobes must now be in grave danger of collapse, given the
number of discarded toon shirts now occupying them - "Robert 32" now
joining the mountains of Viana, Bellamy and Kluivert editions.
But bewilderment rather than rage seems to be the order of the day - along
with a generous dose of resignation as to our plight and unending aptitude
The unanswerable question continues to be how a set of players given
adulation, remuneration and opportunity continue to underachieve and find
themselves at odds with the club.
Simply, what do Kluivert and all the rest of them lack at Newcastle that
stops them from succeeding?
Anyway, to the game and in classic United style, hopes were raised by Dyer's
goal and a certain sluggishness from the home side, who looked vulnerable at
But, as it had against Marseilles last season, when push came to shove... we
fell over and finished up on our knees.
Bad luck, bad judgement and bad attitudes had deprived us of a full quota of
players and as others fell by the wayside over the course of the evening,
the outcome was all too inevitable.
Robert's pre-match comments were inopportune, disloyal and unwanted - but
Of course he lacked the self-awareness to include himself among the
underachievers, but his words do strike a chord when one considers the
negligible contributions of too many so-called big name players this
One can only wonder what inspirational words Souness can find to motivate
the remnants of his squad - but if the players feel as wiped out by this
defeat as the fans, Sunday promises to be sheer purgatory.
Trying to find solace amongst all this, it's at least better to be in these
things than on the outside and this has been an enjoyable perambulation
And anyone who rightly sniggered when Billy Rafferty was wheeled out as a
half time hero earlier this season needs no reminding of the dark days when
16,000 gates and losing at the likes of Swindon and Barnsley were our staple
But there's frustration in that we never seem to learn or advance from the
plateau we've reached on a number of occasions in the last
Only in the world of Newcastle United could an army of 30,000 plus
travelling fans make a pilgrimage under such a cloud of collective
Never mind Cardiff though, we should all be going to Lourdes, such is our
need for a miracle.
It feels almost disloyal to write this, but there's a thin line between
optimism and self-delusion.
Try as we might, there's nothing that gives us any cause for optimism when
considering our chances on Sunday - our chief weapon appearing to be
over-confidence on the part of the opposition.
There have been plenty of villains this season, but the heroes are in short
supply so far.
If nothing else we have to play for pride though and sing, cheer, cajole and
support from the stands - even if we don't quite know why.
To steal a phrase from one of Souness's former clubs "no surrender."