Benfica end Newcastle dreams

Newcastle bowed out of the UEFA Europa League 4-2 on aggregate to Benfica after a 1-1 draw at St James Park.

Last Updated: 11/04/13 at 22:51 Post Comment

Papiss Cisse celebrates his goal with Hatem Ben Arfa

Papiss Cisse celebrates his goal with Hatem Ben Arfa

Papiss Cisse's second half goal reduced the arrears in the tie, but Eduardo Salvio's injury-time strike ended Newcastle's hopes of pulling off a comeback victory.

Cisse also had two goals rightly ruled out for offside as the home side battled to overturn their 3-1 deficit from the first-leg in Portugal, but Benfica did enough to reach the last four.

Newcastle made a shaky start to the game and Benfica went close to scoring after just three minutes when Andre Almeida fired over a cross from the right and Rodrigo Lima saw his backheel flick saved by the legs of Tim Krul.

Benfica continued to call the tune in the early stages and Krul almost gifted them a goal on 28 minutes when he came out to the edge of the box to collect a ball but knowing he couldn't handle it, dropped it at the feet of Lima. The Brazilian striker then picked out Nicolas Gaitan, who saw his goalbound shot cleared off the line by Massadio Haidara.

The Portuguese side went close again on 36 minutes when Ola John got to the byline and hung up a cross to the far post to Eduaro Salvio, who saw his header fall just wide of the target.

Newcastle were struggling to make any inroads in the final third, but they had the ball in the net on the stroke of half-time when Papiss Cisse turned home Gael Bigirimana's cross from close-range. However, the home side's celebrations were cut short by an offside flag.

The hosts improved in the second half as substitute Shola Ameobi provided some support for Cisse in attack.

Cisse had the ball in the net again on 66 minutes when he volleyed home Ameobi's flick-on, but again the strike was ruled out for offside.

Newcastle finally did make the breakthrough five minutes later when Ameobi crossed for Cisse to head home from close range to send the home fans into raptures.

Newcastle threw everything at Benfica as they went in search of the second goal which would send them through, but Benfica's defence stood strong to keep them out.

Benfica then caught them on the break deep into injury-time when substitute Rodrigo crossed for Salvio to sweep the ball home and break Newcastle's hearts.

Newcastle UnitedTeam StatisticsBenfica
1Goals1
01st Half Goals0
4Shots on Target6
5Shots off Target7
2Blocked Shots0
4Corners4
15Fouls10
7Offsides0
4Yellow Cards3
0Red Cards0
81.1Passing Success74.6
23Tackles14
78.3Tackles Success78.6
53.7Possession46.3
46.7Territorial Advantage53.3
418Total Passes370
25Total Crosses15
169Lost Balls170
50Recoveries29
481st Half Poss.52
59.12nd Half Poss.40.9

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may well get slated by other United fans for this, but out of the three contenders, I'd far prefer Liverpool to win the title. Yes some elements of their fanbase can be a bit OTT, yes they're our biggest rivals and yes it will make our poor season feel even more like the end of an era (Fergie's gone, Liverpool are back on top). However I just have to applaud Brendan Rodgers and the way he's turned Liverpool around in just a couple of seasons. It...

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ooray! We are all excited now, we beat a very mediocre team! With all due respect to WHU supporters, not winning that game shouldn't even be a consideration. This is the problem, there is no winning mentality at the Emirates - we're all congratulating ourselves beating a team that we have a winning record against.

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s this meant to be an aspiration for United supporters? Moyes mediocrity strikes again. I see the Bayern boys don't want to sign for him, and his reputation amongst the senior European coaches make other key signings unlikely.

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De Gea's Europa League target

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