Thursday, March 17, 2005


Four goals from Newcastle last night saw us storm in to the Quarter Finals of the UEFA Cup with a 7-1 aggregate win over Olympiakos. Starting brightly, we never allowed the Greek side into the game, and once Kieron Dyer had scored a cleverly crafted back-heeled goal the tie was never really in doubt.

Starting well, we saw Nicky Butt hit the bar before Dyer scored, and Steven Taylor head wide, Alan Shearer shoot over the bar and head wide of the far post afterwards. However, it was not until just before half time that we doubled our lead on the night when Shearer fired home after good work from Dyer to get to the by-line and cut the ball back for his captain.

5-1 up on aggregate at the interval, it was always going to be a struggle for the visitors to come back. Shortly after the break Lee Bowyer looped a header over the keeper, which he managed to scramble back and claw away, but only as far as Jermaine Jenas. JJ, revelling in the opportunity to play anywhere other than left back, crossed the ball back into the box and Bowyer was able to squeeze his shot beneath Nikopolidis.

With Newcastle in full flow, and the visitors having long since raised the white flag of surrender it was only a matter of by how many we would win, and our fourth arrived on 69 minutes when Shearer got free behind the defence. Having beaten the keeper, Shearer turned and fired high into the roof of the net, over the covering defender to make it 4-0 on the night, 7-1 on aggregate and take him to 191 goals for Newcastle.

In the second half, Souness rang the changes, replacing the once again excellent Dyer with Milner, Robert with N'Zogbia and latterly Stephen Carr with Peter Ramage to give the youngster his first team debut.

Milner had the ball in the net with a fine strike from the corner of the area, only to have it ruled out for offside, and in the final few moments the Greeks forced Shay to pull off a save to a low shot from distance which looked like it might just have been going wide. Fortunately the resulting corner was easily dealt with by the Irishman, and he was able to secure his second clean sheet in a row.

With only the trip to Portsmouth to go before some of the players head off for World Cup qualifiers and the others enjoy a well earned rest, this result made it eight wins in a row. Hopefully that can become nine on Saturday, although Fratton Park is not the most welcoming of locations for both players and fans, boasting the crappest toilet/refreshment combination in the Premiership and probably the most vociferous home support.

Still, Souness can again afford to shuffle the pack, with Faye likely to return to midfield against his former club, and provided Shola or Paddy have recovered, Dyer will most probably return to the right wing.

Aside from being a marked improvement in terms of performance following our slightly fortuitous win on Sunday, the game will most likely be remembered for taking Shearer two goals closer to Milburn's record, and for Ramage's debut. However, a strong performance to secure our progression in to the Quarter Finals of the UEFA Cup is not to be sniffed at, and there can't be many sides keen to meet us when the draw is made on Friday.

Other reports:, BBC, Guardian


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