Newcastle played well within themselves tonight in Athens, Greece as they strolled to a 1-1 draw against Atromitos, but only after going 1-0 down to the Greek side after 24 minutes from a defensive mistake.
Newcastle handed debuts to Gael Bigirimana, Romain Amalfitamno and Adam Campbell during this game, and Adam became the youngest player ever to play for Newcastle in Europe.
Newcastle held the ball for long periods in this game but it was a mistake from young James Tavernier that gave Atomritos a surprise lead after 24 minutes, when a long ball beat Tavernier on the inside, and Epstein took his chance well to put the home side 1-0 up.
But it was Ryan Taylor, with another tremendous free-kick from about 30 yards out just before half time, that got Newcastle level, and Ryan will have done his first team chances no harm at all with an excellent display as he controlled the game for the Magpies.
Ryan took all the free kicks, corners and throw-ins and seemed easlily to be Newcastle’s best player on the night, on his European debut, but this lad is now a very good player at Newcastle.
Gael Bigirimana, Vurnon Anita and James Perch – Perchinho – also had good games tonight.
Newcastle basically saw the game out in the second half, and an away goal will also help Newcastle when we entertain Atromitos next Thursday night at St. James Park.
This is how we saw the game with the major incidents.
Newcastle started the game in their maroon strips and it was obvious from early on in the game, that Newcastle would try to control the pace of the game, and they had most of the possession, but a lot of the play in their own half.
Ryan Taylor was taking all the throw-ins, free kicks and corners, and he was putting some good throws into the box, aiming for big Mike Williamson, who was captain on the night, but nothing much was coming from them, as Newcastle found it difficult to create clear cut chances.
There was a couple of half chances down the left wing in the first 20 minutes for Atromitos, with Denis Epstein looking useful.
On 24 minutes, after looking very comfortable on the ball, Newcastle went behind, and it was a long ball to the inside left position and inside Tavernier, that Denis Epstein got on to, and put the ball into the back of the net nicely, and low past Steve Harper to his left – a surprise goal by the Greek side and against the run of play.
It was poor defending by Newcastle and showed the inexperience of James Tavernier at the back, as one long ball beat the defense, and Alan Pardew would not be too pleased about the goal.
On 35 minutes a free kick from the left wing taken by Ryan Taylor almost went in, as the goalkeeper just managed to keep the ball out with his left foot, and the ball was cleared.
There was a minute of added time and a few seconds after the minute had elapsed, Newcastle had a free kick 30 yards out and slightly to the left of the goal, after an obvious foul on Dan Gosling.
And Ryan Taylor again showed just how valuable he is to this Newcastle side, and on his European debut, as he stroked the ball into the back of the net to the goalkeeper’s right – another magnificent goal from Ryan and a great time to equalize for the Magpies.
Papiss Cisse had a quiet game tonight
The referee blew his whistle for half time, and Newcastle were level and had looked comfortable apart from giving the goal away – but we only had ourselves to blame for their goal, as it was poor defending, with Tavernier out of position a couple of times in that first half.
And Newcatsle now have an away goal which should help them – but they will need to be more aggressive in the second half.
There were no changes in the second half and almost immediately Dan Gosling should had scored when the cross from Cisse was headed straight at the goalkeeper by Dan Gosling.
On 58 minutes a Ryan Taylor free kick out on the right was cleared to Obertan, whose first time shot was deflected just over the bar for a corner, which was cleared, and Newcastle were trying to pick up the pace of the game.
Newcastle were again well on top but we were also on top in the first half, but still managed to concede a goal, so the Newcastle players had to keep their concentration in this game with Ryan Taylor outstanding in taking all free kicks, corners and throw ins, and the former Wigan player also had scored Newcastle’s goal.
After 64 minutes Romain Amalfitano came on for Dan Gosling, and it was Romain’s debut for Newcastle, in his first competitive game – the Magpies had 60% of the possession so far in the game.
On 69 minutes goalkeeper Itandje missed a cross and Cisse had a chance to put the ball into the back of the net, but the goalkeeper recovered.
On 71 minutes Gutierrez came on for Sylvain Marveaux and then a beautiful move by Newcastle started with a good run down the right wing by Obertan set up a chance for Amalfitano, but the goalkeeper smothered the ball – it was a good chance for Newcastle and if Cisse had let the ball from gabby go straight through to Romain, it would have been a great chance for the Magpies – but the score remained 1-1.
After 71 minutes Adam Campbell, wearing his 49 number on his back – since it ended with a 9 he must be a striker, came on for Papiss Cisse.
And the North Shields youngster became the youngest player ever to play for Newcastle in Europe, being 64 days younger than the former record holder – Andy Carroll – who went on to become a £35M England International striker.
Newcastle were cruising in this game, but they almost paid for some lackadaisical play, when Konstantinos Giannoulis cut inside from the left beating Tavernier, but he missed an excellent chance when he shot wide of the goal – that was a let off for the Magpies.
And in the last few minutes Newcastle had a couple of decent chances to score but couldn’t get the win tonight, but we think Alan Pardew will be satisfied with the result and the performance, which was decent enough.
Bottom line – Newcastle’s second team strolled through the game tonight, and we expect them to attack Atromitos a lot more next Thursday night in the second leg at St. James’ Park.
Atromitos (4-1-4-1): Charles Itandje; Ioannis Skondras (c), Sokratis Fytanidis, Nikolaos Lazaridis, Konstantinos Giannoulis (Athanasios Karagounis 86); Matias Iglesias; Nikola Beljic (Marinaldo Chumbinho 60), Elini Dimoutsos, Eduardo Luiz Brito, Denis Epstein; Njazi Kuqi (Anastasios Karamanos 60)
Subs not used: Velimir Radman, Eustathios Taylaridis, Sebastian Pitu Garcia, Evaggelos Nastos
Newcastle United (4-2-3-1): Steve Harper; James Tavernier, Mike Williamson (c), James Perch, Ryan Taylor; Gael Bigirimana, Vurnon Anita; Gabriel Obertan, Dan Gosling (Romain Amalfitano 64), Sylvain Marveaux (Jonas Gutierrez 71); Papiss Cisse (Adam Campbell 77)
Subs not used: Tim Krul, Davide Santon, Steven Taylor, Yohan Cabaye
Referee: Alon Yefet