1-1 in this game does not tell the real story of this game, as Newcastle went ahead with another headed goal from Papiss Cisse after 71 minutes, and almost had Benfica on the ropes, as the lads went for the all important second goal, and then a couple of minutes into stoppage time as Newcastle pressed forward, the Portuguese side had a quick breakaway that caught Newcastle short at the back and and they scored to kill the game.
One down and one to go
Cisse the scorer and Ben Arfa after Newcastle’s goal
And to be honest a breakaway goal was always on the cards throughout the game for Benfica – but near the end of the game Newcastle simply had to risk everything to go for glory – and the lads just missed out – after a magnificent and courageous performance from the Newcastle players.
And credit has to go to Alan Pardew and the Newcastle coaches too, as they had the perfect game plan, and it was very nearly executed to perfection.
Here’s how we saw the game as it happened – and I aged another couple of years.
On three minutes Tim Krul had to block a shot from Lima as Benfica started the game quickly, and then after five minutes Tim Krul in the Newcastle goal had to claw away a left wing cross that was going in just under the cross-bar.
So two good save from Tim Krul in the first five minutes of the game.
Then on 13 minutes a through ball found Papiss Cisse free in the inside left position, but he couldn’t control the ball and it went out for a goal kick. Newcastle were finding it a bit difficult to get going, and it was obvious their number one purpose was to keep the game very tight at the back.
On 28 minutes Krul went for a ball on the right hand side of the penalty box, but he had to release the ball when he went outside the box, and Lima put the ball inside to Gaitan who took a shot at goal.
But it was Massadio Haidara reading the situation brilliantly who got back to kick the ball away as it was going in – that was a let-off for Newcastle.
Then on 34 minutes as Newcastle were coming more into the game, a good move found Yohan Cabaye free on the right wing, but the Frenchman ballooned his cross behind for a goal kick.
And then a breakaway from Benfica started when they dispossessed Cabaye in midfield, and 20 year-old Salvio headed just wide of Tim Krul’s left hand post – a close call for the Magpies.
On 42 minutes Sissoko made one of his powerhouse runs down the left wing, and brought the ball inside to Bigirimana, but the 19 year-old shot tamely and straight at the goalkeeper.
Gael looked a bit lost on the right wing – and he was lacking experience for such an important game.
As Newcastle were pressing as the half came to an end, a left wing cross saw Cisse put the ball in the back of the night – but he was a yard offside.
So the half time whistle came with the score 0-0 with Benfica being the slightly better side in that first half – but Newcastle would have settled for 0-0 at the break before the game – and Newcastle were still right in this game.
At the start of the second half Alan Pardew brought on the experienced Shola Ameobi for Gael Bigirimana.
On 50 minutes a nice move between Simpson and Ameobi saw Shola beat his man on the bye-line and get a corner – which came to nothing.
And then six minutes later another quick move by Benfica had Gaitan in the penalty area, and he pulled the ball back to Lima, who then hit his shot over the bar – Benfica were dangerous on the break.
On 62 minutes an almighty roar from the Geordie crowd saw the introduction of Ben Arfa for Vurnon Anita, who had put in a good shift for the Magpies, and it was clear Alan Pardew and the Newcastle team were going for goals, but Benfica were still dangerous.
Three minutes later a cross come shot by Ben Arfa was headed for a corner, and then on 66 minutes Papiss Cisse had the ball int the net again as a cross from Yohan Cabaye was headed onto Cisse who headed it into the net – but he was a yard offside.
Cisse argued with the officials and it got him a yellow card, and then Sylvain Marveaux replaced Massadio Haidara as Newcastle went all out for a goal – and all three attacking substitutions had been made.
And then Newcastle got the goal they wanted – as the ball was played down the right wing and Shola Ameobi crossed the ball from the bye-line and Papiss Cisse was there to head home from a few yards out – as the Newcastle crowd went absolutely crazy.
Newcastle started to pile forward, and Ben Arfa was creating chances for the Newcastle forwards, and on 78 minutes Shola had a chance just outside the penalty area, but he slipped just as he was shooting, and the goalkeeper collected the ball easily.
The game was end to end as Newcastle pushed for a second goal which would see them through, adn newcastle were swarming forward and seemed to have Benfica rattled a few times, and it was not unlike the last 20 minutes against Fulham last Sunday.
And then on 89 minute Ben Arfa had a decent chance but he blazed the ball over the bar from a good position.
It would be four minutes added for stoppage time, and Newcastle got a promising free kick just outside the penalty area, and Yohan Cabaye took it and the ball deflected off the wall, but the goalkeeper saved low to his right.
But then would you believe it – Benfica broke away and caught Newcastle short at the back – and it was Salvio who scored rather easily – and Newcastle had to score three goals in the final two minutes.
We didn’t do it.
But this was a well planned courageous performance from a Newcastle team that just never gives up, and we’re going to be a team to be reckoned with next season.
Newcastle (4-4-1-1): Tim Krul; Danny Simpson, Mike Williamson, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Massadio Haidara (Sylvain Marveaux 67); Gael Bigirimana (Shola Ameobi 46), Yohan Cabaye (c), Vurnon Anita (Hatem Ben Arfa 64), Jonas Gutierrez; Moussa Sissoko; Papiss Cisse
Subs not used: Rob Elliot, Dan Gosling, James Perch, Adam Campbell
Benfica (4-3-3): Artur; Andre Almeida, Luisao (c), Ezequiel Garay, Melgarejo; Eduardo Salvio (Jardel 90+3), Nemanja Matic, Enzo Perez; Ola John (Rodrigo 76), Lima (Oscar Cardozo 72), Nicolas Gaitan
Subs not used: Paulo Lopes, Maxi Pereira, Pablo Aimar, Andre Gomes
Referee: Ivan Bebek (Croatia)