Newcastle edged ever closer to qualifying for the knockout stages of the Europa League by rescuing a draw at Club Brugge.
United had found themselves 2-0 down before strikes from Vurnon Anita and Shola Ameobi levelled the match before half-time. A win in our next Europa League group game – at home to Maritimo in a fortnight – will be enough to ensure European football beyond the new year.
The reality is that Newcastle could and probably should have won on the night, but two lapses in concentration from two of our most reliable players cost us dear and ensured we found ourselves struggling to get the win before getting going in the match.
The home side started brightly but the first chance of the game fell to Newcastle through Gabriel Obertan, who was out through by a backheel from Shola Ameobi. Unfortunately the shot from Obertan was unconvincing and was neither powerful enough nor accurate enough to seriously worry Bojan Jorgacevic in the Brugge goal.
Brugge did look good when attacking quickly though, and it was that approach that saw them take the lead with nearly fifteen minutes on the clock. Ivan Trickovski controlled a long punt forward before turning inside Fabricio Coloccini and finishing past Tim Krul. For me Coloccini should have done better and could have perhaps learned from the goal Luis Suarez scored on Sunday, but I’ll probably get lynched for daring to suggest such a thing…
Speaking of things, they went from bad to worse just five minutes later when the home side doubled their lead. Jesper Jorgensen latched on to a weak headed clearance from James Tavernier before firing a shot at goal. I feel bad for saying firing as the shot wasn’t exactly filled with power, but it still somehow managed to evade Tim Krul and find the corner of the goal. I think Krul could have dealt with it a lot better, but I’ll probably get lynched for daring to suggest such a thing.
It will all be Mike Williamson’s fault I’m sure…
However there was a positive to come out of going two goals down, and that one is that we actually started to play a bit and assert ourselves on the game. Chances soon followed, with Gabriel Obertan creating a cracking one for Sylvain Marveaux who somehow contrived to kick nothing but fresh air when the ball was squared to him. Shocking.
The two Ameobi’s, the first two brothers to start for United since the days of the Robledo’s apparently, then combined to carve out enough chance. Younger brother Sammy crossed from the right wing while Shola forced the Brugge ‘keeper to tip over the bar.
Newcastle finally got back into the game through Vurnon Anita scoring his first goal for the club since his summer move from Ajax. The Netherlands international latched onto a defensive clearance from Brugge and volleyed the ball straight back at goal finding the far corner of the net. Not a bad way to open an account at a new club.
Just two minutes later and United were level. Sammy Ameobi played the ball through for his younger brother who advanced on goal and prodded past Jorgacevic to restore parity just before half-time.
Half-time: Club Brugge 2-2 Newcastle
The second half was a much quieter affair although Newcastle were most definitely on top at the start of the period. They continued to create chances although admittedly none of them were exactly guilt-edged. Yohan Cabaye did hit the crossbar with what looked to me to be cross from a free-kick.
However Newcastle seemed to drop off the boil in the final stages of the match and Brugge threatened to grab a winner. Tim Krul saved well from headers by Carl Hoefkens and Mohammed Tchite before Jesper Jorgensen went close a minute from time after a cleverly worked corner routine.
But no more goals were forthcoming and the match ended in a draw despite a succession of late corners from United.
Full-time: Club Brugge 2-2 Newcastle
I don’t know what to make of this result. I’m pleased we got the draw but in a way I saw enough from us to think we could and probably should have won the game. I guess I have to happy with a point away from home at the end of the day bearing in mind we done it once again with what is largely classed our second-string side.
Ultimately two lapses in concentration cost us dearly and ensured we were at a handicap before the game was twenty minutes in. A shame really considering we weren’t exactly under vast swathes of pressure when the goals were conceded.
Mind you once again we showed great character to come back into the match. it would have been easy to hide away and lose heart, but they didn’t which deserves credit.
They say if you win your home games and draw your home games you’ll do well in Europe, and that is proving to be the case. Follow that pattern in our next European fixture and we’ll have qualified from Group D with a game to spare.
Howay the lads!
Club Brugge: Bojan Jorgacevic; Tom Hogli, Carl Hoefkens, Michael Almeback, Jordi Figueras; Maxime Lestienne, Ryan Donk, Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe, Ivan Trickovski; Jesper Jorgensen; Carlos Bacca
Subs: Vladan Kujovic, Mohammed Tchite, Bjorn Vleminckx, Bart Buysse, Bjorn Engels, Birger Verstraete, Nathaniel Lagrou
Newcastle: Tim Krul; Vurnon Anita, Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini, James Tavernier; Gael Bigirimana, Cheik Tiote; Gabriel Obertan, Sylvain Marveaux, Sammy Ameobi; Shola Ameobi
Subs: Rob Elliot, Shane Ferguson, Davide Santon, Steven Taylor, Yohan Cabaye, Romain Amalfitano, Papiss Cisse
Attendance: 18,000 – Making a mockery of the decision not to offer us more than the 2,600 we ended up with.