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Season 2012-13
Atromitos (a) Europa League Fourth Qualifying Round, First Leg


Thursday 23rd August 2012, 8pm local time
Live on Premier Sports (who acquired the rights after both ITV and ESPN opted not to show it)

 Peristeri Stadium, Athens, Greece

Darkness began to fall shortly after kickoff but temperatures remained in the mid 30s. 

Admission: 25




Newcastle United

1 - 1




6 mins A diagonal ball eluded Tavernier and Epstein drifted in from the left to hit a low effort past Harper to put the home side ahead at the opposite end of the ground to where the away fans were housed - with only a handful of home followers in the open stand behind the goal, which is actually built outside the stadium 0-1

45+2 mins 
Matias Iglesias pulled back Dan Gosling to give Ryan Taylor a sight of goal in a central position 25-yards out and our set-piece specialist hit one of his finest dead ball efforts so far to level the tie 1-1

Half time: Atromitos 1 Newcastle 1

Full time: Atromitos 1 Newcastle

We Said

Alan Pardew said:

"We go home with some new experience, and certainly for some of our players because they won't get that time on the ball they had tonight in a Premier League game. Sometimes you can be uncomfortable with time, trust me. I have been there as a player, so I know. You pick out the wrong pass and you can lose confidence.

"But tonight, everybody used the ball well. We could have had a little bit more devil in our game, but otherwise I was really happy. The most important thing is that we wanted to win the game. I can't protect everybody.

"We tried to restrict
(Cisse's) work-rate to protect him - he didn't really close down too much. His only brief tonight was to get us a goal, and he had a couple of half-chances and nearly did. But 75 minutes was definitely, in my mind, that was him done.

"It was a great opportunity to put Adam Campbell on the pitch, the youngest player to play for Newcastle. I consciously knew that and I wanted him to have that tag because he has got a great future in front of him.

"He's such a lovely lad and a local lad, and it was nice that he had 15 minutes - and had half a chance as well to nick it for us.

"It was a great day for us in a lot of ways because we are going to call upon everybody - League Cup, FA Cup, the squad is all going to play.

"If we are taking an away goal into the home leg, we would be favourites - but we are the favourites when we play at home whoever we are playing, in my opinion, so we have got to win the game.

"They have shown us tonight that it's not going to be a pushover and it's not going to be a foregone conclusion, so we have got to be right and we have got to make sure that the team is strong enough."

They Said

Dusan Bajevic
(Olympiakos boss when United beat them in the 2004/05 UEFA Cup) said:

"We knew the opponents would be stronger and better prepared and we c
onceded at the worst time of the match. If we had kept it at 1-0 then we would have had a better opportunity.

"I am delighted by the players - the first half was as we expected and we could have done better but I'm generally pleased. 1-1 isn't a hopeless score but it will be difficult - we will try to do what we can. 

"We wanted to win and so I tried to make them play more aggressively (in the second half). However we couldn't keep the ball and some of our players tired.

"The players were too anxious - our ball retention and passing could have been better but it was their first time at such an event and they were anxious. 

"We can go to England to win. Newcastle may be close to qualifying, but as I've said before that doesn't mean that we'll go there to surrender."


United in Europe - all time record: 
(not including penalty shootouts):

Played: 121 Won: 69 Drawn: 23 Lost: 29 Goals for: 209  Goals against: 120

Ryan Taylor's tenth competitive goal in our colours was his first of 2012 and our 209th European goal - almost five and a half years after Oba Martins scored number 208 at home to AZ Alkmaar. And in doing so, Ryan became our 56th different scorer in Europe (not including OGs).

Steve Harper
made his 191st appearance for United for over 16 months after his previous outing - a 0-1 defeat at Aston Villa back in April 2011. Since then his sole senior action was a five game loan stint at Championship side Brighton and Hove Albion in October and November 2011.

The custodian also moved  on to 18 appearances (16 starts) in European competition since he made his bow under Sir Bobby Robson in a 2-0 victory away to CSKA Sofia back in September 1999. However he remains some way off Shay Given's 62 European appearances for United.

He also became United's oldest-ever player in European competitions tonight, at the age of 37 years and 162 days, two days older than Stuart Pearce v Partizan Belgrade in September 1998.

All thirteen outfield players used were making their European debuts for Newcastle.

There were club debuts for Gael Bigirimana, Romain Amalfitano and Adam Campbell and a first start for Vurnon Anita after he debuted from the bench against Spurs last Saturday.

Adam Campbell became our youngest-ever participant in Europe at the age of 17 years and 236 days. That bettered the record of Andy Carroll (17 years and 300 days v Palermo in 2006), which had in turn pipped Aaron Hughes (18 years and 18 days v Barcelona in 1997).

The original record holder was Alan Foggon in 1968 (18 years and 249 days v Sporting Lisbon).

A magic Magpie month: Campbell's senior team debut capped a frantic few weeks as follows:

21.07.2012-25.07.2012 scores six goals in four games for U17s at Northern Ireland Milk Cup.
26.07.2012 plays in Milk Cup final with Alan Pardew present.
11.08.2012 plays in first team friendly away to Cardiff City.
18.08.2012 scores 33 minute hat trick for reserves with Alan Pardew present.
23.08.2012 makes first team debut for Newcastle against Atromitos.

Hatem Ben Arfa was ineligible for this game due to starting a suspension that dates back to his Marseille days and a 1-2 home loss to Benfica in the 2009/10 Europa League. 

Entering as a 90th minute substitute, he was heading back down the tunnel precisely 62 seconds later, red-carded for kicking out at an opponent and landing himself a three game ban.

Thankfully though Ben Arfa's name did appear on the eligible player list submitted by Newcastle to UEFA before this tie was played, which means that the suspension now starts to run down. 

That's in stark contrast to the 2003/04 season, when United attempted to register Lee Bowyer, for their seventh European match of the season (against Valerenga), believing that he had served the six game ban he arrived from Leeds United with (after kicking a Spaniard in the head).

However they then found that by not including him in their submitted squad, the suspension was yet to begin, forcing the midfielder to miss the following six ties - and then one more due to injury. He eventually made his debut in the UEFA Cup semi-final second leg defeat at Marseille. 


Ryan Taylor πάνω από το τοίχο


There may not have been many present to witness it at first hand, but Ryan Taylor's stunning free kick set Newcastle on the road to what will hopefully be an adventure matching the excitement and achievement of the domestic campaign that secured this European return after five seasons.

Alan Pardew admitted before the match that he'd probably take a draw and seemed satisfied with his first-ever goal and point in Europe as a manager, having lost home and away to Palermo (0-1 and 0-3) when in charge of West Ham for their abortive UEFA Cup campaign back in 2006.  

Denied the luxury of an extra day to prepare for the visit to Chelsea by the inflexibility of UEFA, the Premier League and Metropolitan Police, his team selection reflected not only the twin demands of two fixtures in such close proximity but also some early season injury concerns.

Having come up against Atromitis striker Kuqi (younger brother of toon old boy Shefki) when playing recently for Northern Ireland against Finland, Shane Ferguson was anticipated to feature in this game, along with fellow fringe player Haris Vuckic - the latter a pre-season regular.  

Along with Sammy Ameobi though, that pair weren't on United's charter flight to Greece due to injury. And news that Shola Ameobi had failed to travel after pulling out of the previous Saturday's game against Spurs in the warm-up further limited United's striking options. 

Whether Shola would have been capable of adding to his previous dozen European strikes is open to question, but the enforced reduction in tempo caused by the searing Athens heat would have suited him, while his ability to hold up the ball could have made him a valuable asset - even for 45 minutes. 

As it was, Papiss Cisse appeared to lead the line, while Demba Ba remained at home with the likes of Cheick Tiote, Danny Simpson, Fabricio Coloccini and Hatem Ben Arfa. The bench meanwhile included Tim Krul, Yohan Cabaye, Steven Taylor, Davide Santon and Jonas Gutierrez but only the latter was called upon to work up a sweat as United looked to push on for a second goal. 

James Tavernier, Sylvain Marveaux and Vurnon Anita added to their meagre appearance tallies, with Anita making a first Newcastle start after debuting from the bench against Spurs. The Dutchman however is no stranger to European club competition with 28 appearances for Ajax since 2007 including ties against Real Madrid and Manchester United last season.

Backed by a small but noisy section of "ultras", Atromitos made the early running and put United under pressure; Epstein causing problems for Tavernier at right-back before he nipped in from that flank to score a goal that home fans and players alike seemed unprepared to celebrate.

Frustratingly, United were proving unable to get either the ball or adequate support to Cisse and test ex-Liverpool 'keeper Charles Itandje in the home goal - who looked anything but reliable when awkwardly booting clear a whipped-in free-kick from Taylor. The Cameroonian custodian was then grateful for a defender to hack the ball clear after spilling another cross - a weakness that will surely have been noted ahead of the second leg on Tyneside.

Going in at the interval back on level terms boosted United and Harper never looked like conceding after half time, although the attacking efforts of the visitors from open play still remained fitful.

Cisse almost turned provider when his cross found the toiling Marveaux and although his header was weak, a deflection off a defender almost fooled Itandje. Gabriel Obertan then burst into life with a first-time volleyed effort that narrowly missed the target, before picking out Cisse with a centre only for the 'keeper to get a hand on the ball as he shaped to shoot.

Romain Amalfitano came on for his senior debut and again linked up well with fellow substitute and new boy Campbell, as the pair had done in the closing stages of the defeat at Cardiff. The former almost managed to jink into the box and fire in what would have been the winner, only for a covering defender to intervene.

Honours even then and a broadly agreeable result from a low-level contest that at times had the look and intensity of a pre-season game. Logic dictates that we'll prevail next Thursday and find ourselves in the Group Stage draw, but it's perhaps as well to recall the folly of our 2003 exit from the Champions League at the hands of Partizan Belgrade (1-0 up, lost 0-1 at home, out on pens). 

There's no such thing as a foregone conclusion where Newcastle United are concerned.  

The Geordie Boys are (back) in town


Page last updated 06 July, 2013