Newcastle United came from two goals down to salvage a draw against Club Brugge and take one step closer to qualifying for the knockout stages of the Europa League. A quick fire double from the home side had the Magpies rocking, but a 3-minute double salvo from Vurnon Anita and Shola Ameobi ensured the massive travelling Toon Army returned to Tyneside a happy bunch.

Reportedly in excess of 15,000 Geordies made the trip across the channel for the game, with the majority watching on specially-erected big screens around the city centre. With the home crowd sparse, it was almost like a home game for Newcastle, as renditions of “Blaydon Races” regularly rang out around the Jan Breydel Stadium.

However, they were silenced as Brugge went on the offensive from the first whistle and took the lead after just 14 minutes. Similar to the goal they conceded against Liverpool on Sunday, it was a long ball through the middle that caused the problem. Uncharacteristically poor defending from Fabricio Coloccini allowed Ivan Trickovski to control and fire a low shot past Krul, who had already committed himself the other way.

With the visitors rocking from conceding their first goal in Europe this season, Brugge doubled their lead just four minutes later. This time it was a poor clearing header from rookie defender James Tavernier that landed at the feet of Jesper Jorgensen. The Dane’s effort lacked any real power but had the accuracy to creep into Krul’s far corner and leave Newcastle with a mountain to climb.

They responded well though, and could have had a goal back when Sylvain Marveaux had a chance to connect with a cross. The Frenchman has been a bit-part player since arriving from Rennes last year and could have kickstarted his Newcastle career with a goal, but failed to connect when the goal was begging.

Heading towards half time still two goals down, it looked as though it would take a harsh team talk from Alan Pardew to get his side back into the game. In fact, it was a stunning strike from Anita which gave the Magpies a way back into the contest.

A cross from the left was headed away and instead of controlling and pumping another cross back in, Anita swung a right boot at it, connected beautifully and sent it straight into the bottom corner, giving goalkeeper Bojan Jorgacevic no chance.

Geordie tails were up and Brugge were stunned by the quality of the goal that had just pulled Newcastle back into the game when Shola Ameobi completed the quickest comeback imaginable. Sammy Ameobi slipped a perfectly weighted pass through to his older brother and Shola toe-poked home to complete a remarkable turnaround.

Shola continued to bully the Brugge centre backs early in the second half and almost had his second of the night when Sammy’s cross found him, only for the keeper to tip a looping header over the bar when it was drifting in.
Yohan Cabaye came on in the second half to try and inspire a Toon winner and almost done so when his curling free kick cracked back off the crossbar with everyone beaten.

A frantic ending ensued and both sides had half chances to take all three points, although no team fully deserved the win. The biggest chance came when substitute Mohamed Tchite had a powerful header turned away by Krul, but in truth it was a comfortable save for the Dutch number one.

The result means Newcastle stay top of Group D and only need a point from their final game at home to Maritimo to progress to the knockout stages of the competition. A win in that would mean the final group game against Bordeaux in France would be meaningless and give Pardew the chance to rest as many of his first team as he likes, as he concentrates on marrying together good form in the Premier League with a push for European glory.

By Chief Sports Writer, Marley Anderson