Newcastle strolled through the game tonight in Athens, Greece, but there again we didn’t expect the lads to be rushing around with the temperature in the 80s, and they had to maintain their energy for the whole 90 minutes, and although there were a few careless mistakes made at the back, Alan Pardew seems well satisfied with both the performance the the result, although he admits Newcastle had chances to win the game in that second half.
Ryan Taylor being congratulated after scoring direct from a free kick
Gael Bigirimana, Romain Amalfitano and young Adam Campbell all made their first team debuts in the game, and 17 year-old Campbell became the youngest player ever to play in Europe for the Magpies.
And the North Shields lad’s energy and speed after he came on, suggests that he could be an excellent impact sub for Newcastle in the Premier League this season, and he could well make his break-through for Newcastle very soon, even though he is still very young.
Alan Pardew had this to say after the game tonight;
“When we trained here on Wednesday night, Ryan Taylor hit three or four better than the one he scored with.” “I should think in the Premier League, there are not too many players at dead balls who have the accuracy of Ryan.”
“He is desperate to play in the first team, but he has got some good performances from Saturday’s game against Tottenham in front of him, so he has got to be patient.” “When he gets his chance, what more can he do? He played very well – and hopefully there are a few more of those, please.”
“Our pre-season prep, you could argue, served us well tonight because they let us have possession for long periods of the game, and we moved the ball and made them work really hard and took the sting out of the game a little bit.”
“In the second half, I was a little bit disappointed we didn’t get the win – I thought there were good opportunities – but overall, I was very, very pleased with the performance.” “Atromitos 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.” “But that team I fielded tonight, I thought we got it just about right, and now we have got to get next Thursday right.”
“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.”
Atromitos never really went all out for victory tonight, because they seemed to be very wary of Newcastle, and the Magpies tried to control the game from the first whistle, but there were one or two moments at the back, when Newcastle seemed to lose their concentration and one of those moments cost Newcastle a goal in the 24th minute.
Atromitos manager Dusan Bajevic refused to say they were going for the win next Thursday night at St. James’ Park, when we would expect Newcastle to be a lot more adventurous and attacking in that game to get the win, which will take us through to the group stages of the Europa League.
This is what Dusan said after the game:
“We cannot say we are going for the win, but we are not going there to be defeated either.” “Newcastle are the favorites, but that does not mean we are going to put our hands up and surrender.”
Ryan Taylor’s performance tonight was a nice little reminder to Alan Pardew that he’s a game-winner, as he showed a few times last season, and Davide Santon will need to keep his performances at a high standard to keep the left-back starting position in the first team.
Other players to impress tonight were Gael Bigirimana – what a player this lad looks like at just 18 – and James Perch put in another strong performance at center-back, following his good performance against Tottenham last Saturday deputizing for the injured Fabricio Coloccini.
New signing Vurnon Anita also used the game to get to grips with the Newcastle way of playing the game, and he also looked impressive in central midfield for the Magpies tonight.
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