Deportivo La Coruna (Spain) (a) Intertoto Cup Semi-Final 1st Leg
11 mins Munitis broke down the right and squared for Ruben to sidefoot home, his close-range shot going through Given with the visiting defenders playing at statues. 0-1
Half time: Deportivo 1 Newcastle 0
48 mins Lee Bowyer's left-footed volley bulged the back of
the net after Stephen Carr's corner had been headed away at the
near post. 1-1
Full time: Deportivo 2 Newcastle 1
Graeme Souness said:
"We would probably have
taken that scoreline before the game if we're truthful.
Deportivo coach Joaquín Caparrós said:
"I'm happy with the work of our players. I also believe that the 2-1 score is pretty short, but if we continue in this way we will have good choices to win this tie.
"They have a better physical condition, but we have speed as our advantage, that's why we tried to make moves quickly. We will play in the same way (in the second leg). The objective is to be far away from our area.
“The team must try to avoid situations
like the goal allowed today, but who knows... when the game starts, there's
nothing you can do.”
"I went home after the match feeling very happy as much on a personal level as collective because I believe that the game was a good sign for the future for us."
The quest for a place in the UEFA Cup took the Magpies
to the province of Galicia, for what proved to be anything but a Spanish stroll
at the seaside - but one in which we stopped short of being totally shipwrecked.
While Deportivo's stock has fallen recently, they still seemed keener, faster and more creative than our collection of players - something that couldn't be totally attributed the more advanced pre-season preparations of the home side.
However the Spaniards did at least find Boumsong in good nick as they failed to make their overall superiority count in front of goal - a fact gives Newcastle reason to look to the second leg of the tie with more optimism that their own performance tonight might warrant.
Shorn of Jenas and Dyer, our midfield had a depressingly
austere look to it - something that neither Faye nor Butt seemed interested in
Goals never seemed to be on our agenda, so when Bowyer
clattered in a well-taken second half equaliser it was greeting with both
surprise and delight in the away corner.
And when under-employed defender Andrade (once reputedly coveted by Souness) meandered upfield to be allowed a run on goal and the chance to beat Given, it seemed as if we were almost intent on bidding adios to this competition.
For Deportivo though the goals that could have put them a step nearer to the final didn't come - meaning that Newcastle officials were spared the scenario of a near-deserted St.James' next week for the footballing equivalent of a dead rubber.
There can be a measure of grim satisfaction from Souness that his below-strength team still have a foothold in this competition - even if he'd privately rather have been out of contention and free to prepare for a domestic campaign, without moonlit midweek returns from foreign lands.
At this rate though, the elder statesman of the team will be worn out by the time we get to Highbury - the sight of him being flogged up front without respite perhaps the most deeply depressing aspect of the season thus far.
Elsewhere both Carr and Babayaro look to be committed Eurosceptics given their uninspiring showing here, the latter drawing some criticism from the away corner and the former blowing hard in the second half.
But regardless of the paucity of entertainment provided here tonight, we survived and set up a vaguely interesting game on Tyneside next week - well, it's got to be better than the Newcastle Gateshead Cup.....
Clichés about it being early days fitness-wise do have some validity, but while our manager's preferred line up exists only on paper a downbeat, almost joyless atmosphere can be sensed.
Nothing has changed from the back end of last season on
the field as yet - except we have a numerically smaller squad and as well as
shedding attitude problems, have also lost goals and creativity.