Date: Thursday 4th April 2013, 8.05pm BST
Venue: Estadio da Luz, Lisbon
Conditions: Occasional heavy showers
Admission: £26 for NUFC fans
3 - 1
12 mins Danny
Simpson's fine ball down the United flank set Moussa Sissoko scurrying away and
he delivered a fine low cross on the run that Papiss Cisse reached before a pair
of defenders and tucked away with what looked like his shin from just inside the
six yard box. Magic. 1-0
25 mins Tim Krul
could only parry Cardozo's effort into the path of Rodrigo Moreno, who slammed
the ball home from close range 1-1
Half time: Benfica 1 Newcastle 1
65 mins home substitute
Lima made an immediate impact when harassing Davide Santon into a suicidal
back pass that brought Krul off his line. The in-form Brazilian forward promptly
steered a low effort into the empty net. 1-2
71 mins Ola John's corner was controlled by Steven Taylor, who clearly
used his arm - and later unconvincingly claimed that he'd got his laces caught
in his studs. He appeared to have escaped punishment as the game continued,
before the referee belatedly pointed to the spot. Confirmation later came that
the extra byline official had seen the offence - just about the first time any
of them have had an effect on our games in this competition this season.
Oscar Cardozo came in off a slightly hesitant run up to belt the ball down the
middle of the goal in the place Krul had vacated. However Benfica's celebrations
were cut short when the referee ruled that a home player had encroached into the
"D" of the penalty area. Cardoza took the spot kick again and this
time squeezed it inside Krul's right hand post 1-3
Full time: Benfica 3 Newcastle 1
"Apart from 10 minutes at the end of the first half, I thought we
were in control. It is an uphill challenge for us now. We probably had them
just where we wanted them before the second goal and then we conceded two
"There was obviously a mistake for the first of them, but the second
was unlucky. It looked like Taylor caught Sissoko's boot-lace with his studs
and it has affected his jump and we have gifted them a third.
"The side showed tonight what they have shown in Europe all year, that
we are a competitive side. We have come up against a very good Benfica side,
and with a couple of different breaks in the game, I think we could have
come away with a fantastic result.
"I cannot say any more, I was overjoyed with the performance but not
the result, that probably sums up my feelings.
We've done so much right tonight and got
ourselves into a great position with Papiss' goal. In terms of the performance
and the players, I can't fault them.
"We came here to have a go at them and we did that. They caused some
problems to us just before half-time for ten to 15 minutes, but other than that
we were in control of the game.
"If it was 2-1, you would think we would have a good chance at home, but it
is an uphill chance for us now. We have to give them respect and on the
break they are going to be dangerous at St James', but we showed signs tonight
that if we are ambitious and we can hurt them.
"Of course it is possible (to qualify), anything is possible. If we
can put Benfica under pressure at home, pressure can do funny things to you.
"I think at our place the away goal
could come into it. We need to score first, I think, to have a realistic
chance in that game, but I think we showed enough tonight to prove we can
cause them problems.
"They are a good side, there is no
doubt about that, but for long periods in that game we were comfortable. I
was overjoyed with the performance but not the result, and that probably
sums up my feelings. I thought on another given day we could have got a much
better result, for sure.
"I thought we probably had them
where we wanted them just before their second goal and then it is two poor
goals on our part. We are disappointed with the result, because of the
performance level. In some parts of the game we played very, very
"It's a big disappointment. We started very well – we
were leading 1-0 and we had the chances to score the second goal, which
unfortunately we didn't take. We ended up giving goals to our opponents, but
the fact we could make chances against such good opposition gives us some
hope for the return match.
"In front of our supporters, I'm sure we'll have chances. Now it's up
to us to control the match well and play the 90 minutes right to the end to
try and qualify. I'm sure the stadium will be full. We already had so many
supporters here this evening and that's huge for us. It'll be a whole
different atmosphere and I know we can count on our fans."
Benfica coach (and former Sporting
Lisbon midfielder) Jorge Jesus:
"It was a great game against a
great team, with great players, which hindered us the most in the first
quarter of an hour. Benfica's players really believe in what they do; we
conceded the first goal but believed we were going to turn it around.
"When you're confident and when the players know what they are doing,
you can be confident. Today we did nothing different than we've done in other games - luck
does not appear, it's earned.
"I only knew the name of the Newcastle goalkeeper, but he stopped three
or four goals. He was great. This was a great game, one of champions in my
"(In the second leg)
we'll do the same thing as today. This result doesn't guarantee us anything,
we know that this team is very strong at home and strong in the air.
Shola Ameobi came off the bench to complete
his half century of appearances in competitive European fixtures but was unable
to add to his tally of 15 goals.
United's European Record to date:
Played:133 Won:74 Drawn:28 Lost:31 Goals
for:220 Goals against:128
This was our first
competitive fixture against Benfica, having faced them previously in
1971/72 won 1-0 (h)
1998/99 drew 0-0 (n*) (lost 3-4 on penalties)
*JD Sports tournament staged at the smoggies
United v Portuguese opposition (competitive):
1968/69 Sporting Lisbon (h) won 1-0 Robson
1968/69 Sporting Lisbon (a) drew 1-1 Scott
1968/69 Vitoria Setubal (h) won 5-1 Davies, Foggon, Gibb,
1968/69 Vitoria Setubal (n) lost 1-3 Davies
1969/70 Porto (h) won 1-0 Scott
1969/70 Porto (a) drew 0-0
2004/05 Sporting Lisbon (h) drew 1-1 Bellamy
2004/05 Sporting Lisbon (h) won 1-0 Shearer
2004/05 Sporting Lisbon (a) lost 1-4 Dyer
2012/13 Maritimo (h) drew 1-1 Marveaux
2012/13 Maritimo (a) drew 0-0
2012/13 Benfica (a) lost 1-3 Cisse
Quarter Final First Leg Results:
Chelsea (England) 3-1 Rubin Kazan (Russia)
Spurs (England) 2-2 Basel (Switzerland)
Fenerbahce (Turkey) 2-0 Lazio (Italy)
Benfica (Portugal) 3-1 Newcastle United (England)
Alan Pardew had labelled Thursday's Europa
League first leg tie as 'Mission Possible', but after a typical evening of
triumph and despair from his side, Newcastle now need a flawless display at both
ends of the field next week if they are to win a place in the last four.
Coming into this game having lost on home soil only to Barcelona in the previous
12 months and with a 29 game unbeaten domestic record, the extent of our task
was apparent even with a full strength side, let alone one without messrs Ben
Arfa, Coloccini, Debuchy, Haidara and Tiote.
United's thirteenth European tie of the season had the feel of a grand occasion
in the same way of our previous visits to Barcelona, Milan and Rotterdam and the
comparison with the Nou Camp is certainly a valid one in terms of status - and breathtaking merchandise prices
in the club shop.
The real Stadium of Light had 20,000 empty seats tonight, but remained a
suitably imposing venue and the surroundings seemed to inspire the away
contingent, who provided great vocal backing to their side and were applauded by
home fans in the stand to their left after full time.
Before kickoff the home side's eagle mascot had memorably swooped around the
stands and playing area, but
it was Papiss Cisse who looked in the mood to hunt down his prey on the
field. The number 9 poked home
Moussa Sissoko's low centre and came desperately close to a second soon after -
seeing his deflected shot from close range strike a post and rebound to
Brazilian goalkeeper Artur.
Instead though, the next name on the scoresheet was a home player as Moreno scored the first
goal we've conceded in this competition in 402 minutes.
That brought the Portuguese League leaders more into the game and woke up their
slumbering support, but United made it to the interval on level terms; thanks
in part to Tim Krul's fine stop to deny the goalscorer, with the Dutchman in good
form on his return from a four match absence.
Kicking towards their support, again United seized the initiative from the first whistle and
Cisse again latched onto Sylvain Marveaux's pass and clipped the ball
beyond Artur - only to again be denied by the woodwork. Had that gone in, the
world may have been a very different place.
Instead though that let-off for
Benfica prompted a response and they missed a glaring chance to take the lead for the first
time on 56 minutes, when Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa surrendered possession to Rodrigo in
the area but Cardozo thankfully blasted wide.
With home fans and riot police tussling behind the goal for reasons that
remained unclear, Davide Santon's awful back pass led to Benfica's second of the
evening and marked the point that this all started to unravel from a Newcastle
Further tragedy quickly followed as Steven Taylor handled a cross in his
own box and although Cardozo's initial conversion was ruled out for
encroachment, he confidently fired home at the second attempt.
At that point memories of the 1-4 horror show at nearby Sporting Lisbon eight
years earlier were brought to mind, but United managed to see the game through
to full time without conceding again to give themselves at least a theoretical
chance of advancing in the second leg.
For them to do so will first of all require a more focused defensive performance to
record what is almost a pre-requisite clean sheet. We usually leave match
statistics for others to slice, but a corner count of 12-0 in favour of Benfica
is worthy of note, as is the 19-6 goal attempt tally.
That more attacking flair and
midfield steel are needed in the return leg is a no-brainer, but the tricky part
for the manager remains balancing his need for goals with the requirement not to
allow Benfica to profit on the counter attack.
The return of Cheick Tiote could bolster the midfield (unless he's in one of his
Kamikaze moods), but inspirational
displays of the type sadly lacking from the unadventurous Yohan Cabaye tonight
are also pre-requisites.
If any sort of shift can be coaxed out of Hatem Ben
Arfa, that may be our best, slight, hope. If Tyneside does witness
a miracle on Thursday, it won't be the work of Jesus....
A night of high drama awaits, with the possibility (in theory at least) of a
penalty shootout to decide our fate. That uncertainty remains the essence of cup football:
in order to achieve something
memorable the occasion has to be created, in other words you can only achieve an
against all odds triumph in the order of Feyenoord by getting in a mess
Unlike that fabulous night back in November 2002 there'll be 50,000 fans
present, cheering and willing their heroes on to victory. Our uncomfortable
league position threatens to undermine the occasion though and much will depend
on whether three points have been earned from Fulham.
The reality remains that the second leg is the least important of the three home
games this week, in terms of the future financial health of the club. The vastly
increasing rewards of Premier League membership though mean that preserving our
status remains paramount, even to the exclusion of much coveted silverware. Sad,