Jesus warns of Newcastle threat

Jorge Jesus has warned there is no room for complacency as Benfica attempt to reach the Europa League semi-finals.

Last Updated: 11/04/13 at 07:22 Post Comment

Rodrigo celebrates his first-leg equaliser for Benfica

Rodrigo celebrates his first-leg equaliser for Benfica

Benfica coach Jorge Jesus has warned there is no room for complacency as they attempt to book their place in the Europa League semi-finals.

The Portuguese league leaders will run out to face Newcastle at St James' Park tomorrow night defending a 3-1 first-leg lead and knowing they have one foot in the last four.

However, Jesus is wary of the threat posed by the Magpies, who took the lead at the Estadio da Luz and twice hit the post before finally succumbing to a second-half onslaught.

Asked if his side had done enough in Lisbon to secure their passage, Jesus said: "We did enough - we scored three goals and Newcastle scored one.

"But everything is still open, of course, and they [Newcastle] still believe they can go through as well so everything will be decided tomorrow."

Benfica are unbeaten in 31 games in all competitions - they last lost to Spartak Moscow in the Champions league in October - and maintained their lead at the top of their domestic table with a 2-0 victory at Olhanense on Sunday.

By contrast, Newcastle are still engaged in a battle for Barclays Premier League survival, a process which received a welcome boost at the weekend when Papiss Cisse's injury-time strike secured a narrow victory over Fulham which lifted them five points clear of the drop zone and into 13th place.

However, Jesus believes they are a better team than their league position suggests.

He said: "Yes, of course they have a better team than is shown by the table. They have great players and they are a very strong team."

Newcastle have made something of a habit of scoring late goals in recent weeks and manager Alan Pardew has admitted he will still be confident of success even if they go into the final 10 minutes of the tie still trailing by two goals.

However, Jesus is expecting the Magpies to attack his treble-chasing side from the off and has prepared his defenders for an aerial assault.

He said: "Newcastle will start very strongly in the first half as well and we are ready for that.

"We are always ready for any type of strategy from other clubs so we will be prepared.

"If they attack it will put more emphasis on our defence. I believe Shola Ameobi and Papiss Cisse will play up front and they are very strong in the air.

"But we will be ready for that and have trained for all these possibilities."

Former Bolton striker Rodrigo, who scored Benfica's first-leg equaliser, has been to St James' before having been an unused substitute in Wanderers' 1-1 Premier League draw on Tyneside in February 2011, and he knows exactly what to expect from a sell-out crowd.

He said: "We know all the British teams have very supportive fans but we are used to that, so the players are quite relaxed about it.

"Of course we are aware it would be a pretty good moment if we could get through but we will have to wait and see.

"We know Newcastle are powerful up front but it's our job to neutralise their attack to get through to the next stage."


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