Newcastle United, in a well-organized and disciplined display tonight in Moscow, ended Anzhi Makhachkala’s winning home record, when they defended well and looked a very good side in holding the hosts to a 0-0 draw in the first leg of the Europa league last 16 tie.
James Perch and Willian – Perch had an excellent game tonight
The Russian side had won every Europa League game so far this season, including a 1-0 win against Liverpool, but the hosts couldn’t get the breakthrough, in what was a very even game tonight at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.
And in truth there were very few chances tonight, with Ben Arfa having Newcastle’s best chance after 64 minutes, when he was clean through on the right, but tried to lift the ball over the goalkeeper, who managed to block the shot.
And Rob Elliot again showed what a good goalkeeper he is with two excellent saves , one in each half – and in general he put in another first class show in the Newcastle goal.
In the first half Elliot turned a swerving dipping shot from Samuel Eto’o over the bar, and then in the second half after 61 minutes he made a fantastic point-blank save low to his left from Eto’o, to put around the post for a corner – a fantastic reflex save from the Newcastle goalkeeper.
It was a very even first half with only one chance – which fell to Eto’o – and Newcastle had held their own rather easily in the first half.
Anzhi started the second half in another gear, going all out to try to break though what looked like a very solid Newcastle defense, but they just couldn’t carve out many chances, as the back four and the goalkeeper had very good games, with Ynaga-Mbiwa looking like a first rate defender.
Ben Arfa almost brought Newcastle the winner when some neat inter-play with Yohan Cabaye found Ben Arfa through in the inside right position, but instead of smashing the ball home with his right foot, he tried a delicate lob, which the goalkeeper saved – a great chance missed by the Frenchman.
Alan Pardew brought Shola Ameobi for Ben Arfa a few minutes later, and Ben Arfa can be pleased with a decent performance in his first game back since early December.
And then goalkeeper Rob Elliot was again alert as he came running out of his box to boot the ball clear just outside the penalty area.
After 75 minutes Pardew replaced Vurnon Anita, who had put in another excellent shift in the black and white shirt, and on came Steven Taylor and James Perch moved forward into central midfield.
Newcastle then held an increasing desperate Anzhi as the game came to an end, as they just couldn’t break through the Newcastle and rearguard, and after three minutes of added time, Newcastle had got a well deserved 0-0 draw in Moscow.
There were lots of good things to take out of this game – not least of which was another strong defensive performance from Newcastle in Europe.
The second leg is next Thursday at St. James’ Park, and with a good attendance on the night, Newcastle must now have an excellent chance to reach the quarter finals.
Howay The Lads!!
Anzhi Makhachkala (4-2-3-1): Vladimir Gabulov; Andrey Eschenko (Arseny Logashov 90), Joao Carlos, Ewerton, Yuri Zhirkov; Jucilei da Silva, Lassana Diarra; Odil Ahmedov, Willian (Lacina Traore 23), Oleg Shatov (Mehdi Carcela-Gonzalez 84); Samuel Eto’o (c)
Subs not used: Evgeniy Pomazan, Rasim Tagirbekov, Ali Gadzhibekov, Fedor Smolov
Newcastle United (4-2-3-1): Rob Elliot; Danny Simpson, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, James Perch, Massadio Haidara; Yohan Cabaye (c) (Cheick Tiote 84), Vurnon Anita (Steven Taylor 75); Sylvain Marveaux, Moussa Sissoko, Gabriel Obertan; Hatem Ben Arfa (Shola Ameobi 64)
Subs not used: Jak Alnwick, Davide Santon, Gael Bigirimana, Adam Campbell
Referee: Istvan Vad (Hungary)
Bookings: Newcastle – Haidara (34)