Ryan Taylor - Newcastle United News

Newcastle United will head back to St James’ Park with everything still to play for in the second leg of their Europa League Qualifying tie with Greek side Atromitos, after the first leg ended 1-1. The Magpies’ first European game in five years was less comfortable than some might have expected, but Alan Pardew will be pleased as his inexperienced side came from a goal down to keep the tie level.

Denis Epstein put the hosts ahead after 24 minutes after capitalising on a mistake by James Tavernier but a trademark free-kick from Ryan Taylor equalised for the Geordies and sent the 50-strong travelling Toon Army home relatively happy.

There was also history made as 17-year old Adam Campbell became the youngest player to appear for Newcastle in Europe, eclipsing the previous record held by Andy Carroll.

Gael Bigirimana and Romain Amalfitano also made their Newcastle debuts – the latter from the bench as he replaced Dan Gosling in the second half – as Alan Pardew attempted to blend youth and experience in his starting line-up.
When the game got underway, it soon became clear that the home side fancied the task in front of them. Epstein was seeing a lot of the ball down the Atromitos left and a few early dribbles kept Tavernier on his toes.

It may well have been a ploy by the Greek side to try and exploit the young full-back, as the attacks kept flowing through Epstein and soon it paid off. Some slack defensive positioning on Tavernier’s part let the winger in behind him and Epstein controlled before slotting past Steve Harper with ease.

Vurnon Anita tried to inspire his new side on his European debut by beginning to pull the strings in midfield and soon Taylor had a free kick within range. This one was parried by former Liverpool goalkeeper Charles Itandje and Bigirimana blasted the follow up high.

However that was just a sighter for the former Wigan man and he soon had the beating of the Atromitos stopper. A 25-yarder on the stroke of half-time flew into the bottom corner and gave Newcastle a potentially vital away goal going into the second leg next Thursday.

The second half didn’t produce much worth mention in all honesty, with the best chance falling to the home side. Left-back Kostas Giannoulis was the man guilty of a horrendous miss as he found himself in the Newcastle area with a chance to give the Greeks the lead, although he could only shank his shot well wide of Harper’s posts.

Romain Amalfitano may have won it late on for Newcastle as he linked up with Papiss Cisse; although the Frenchman’s heavy first touch took it too close to Itandje.

Attention now turns to the weekend for Alan Pardew and his side, as they try and avoid the after-effects of a 4,000 mile round trip and get themselves ready for a Saturday tea time kick-off against Chelsea in the Premier League.

Newcastle are still favourites to make it through to the Europa League proper, as they have a valuable away goal and home advantage in the decisive second leg. They now know what they will be up against if they are to succeed, now it’s time to put the plan into practice and ensure all Thursday nights for the foreseeable future are occupied by European football.

By Chief Sports Writer, Marley Anderson

No Responses

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.