Palermo 0 Newcastle Utd 1
Thursday 2nd November 2006
PALERMO 0 NEWCASTLE UTD 1
PALERMO: Fontana, Dellafiore, Cassani, Barzagli (Biava, 46 mins), Pisano, Tedesco (Simplicio, 65 mins), Guana (Di Michele, 65 mins), Parravicini, Munari, Brienza, Caracciolo.
Subs: Sirigu, Zaccardo, Bovo, Bresciano.
NEWCASTLE UTD: Krul, Ramage, Moore, Bramble, Taylor, Solano (Carroll, 90 mins), Emre, N`Zogbia (Sibierski, 67 mins), Milner, Butt, Luque (Pattison, 76 mins).
Subs: Harper, Huntington, Bernard, Troisi.
The Fairs Cup final apart, this has to be one of the greatest nights for Newcastle United in European football!
June 11th 1969 Joe Harvey's boys came back from 2-0 down at half-time in Budapest to produce a performance like no other. Goals from Benny Arentoft, Alan Foggan and skipper Bob Moncur won the cup for the Magpies and we haven't lift silverware of any significance since.
But in Sicily on Thursday an almost Newcastle United Reserve side tackled the joint leaders of the Italian league, and came away with the most amazing result. All I can say is - stand up those who honestly thought we would get three points! If you say 'me', you must either have blind faith, or you should have a spell in the 'funny farm'.
But a crowd of 16,904 saw the Geordies upset the odds and stick three toes in the third round of the UEFA Cup. Albert Luque's 37th-minute header will make the history books, but that was just part of the story.
James Milner skinned defenders on the left flank and sent in the perfect cross. It was probably BETTER than perfect. It swung in to tease the goalkeeper, then swung out as the Palermo 'keeper Fontana made his mind up to go and collect ... finding himself in no-man's-land. It dipped over a Palermo defender, right onto the head of Luque, and even HE couldn't miss! Then all credit to debutant goalkeeper Tim Krul who kept Glenn Roeder's side in the game with several spectacular saves.
Palermo simply could not find a way past the Dutch giant and the handful of Newcastle fans were able to celebrate with calls of 'we are top of the league' at the final whistle.
Luque earned a rare start in attack simply because Glenn Roeder had little option because he had no-one else. The manager made a rallying cry before the match to boost the forgotten man and hopefully get something out of him. But if the early moments were anything to go by, the Spaniard didn't seem interested. However, that gem from Milner could have transformed Luque's Tyneside career.
James Milner was simply fantastic. This was the place for men to stand and be counted and Milner was above everyone on that pitch, with Krul an inch below. This was the day he proved to the Geordie public Freddy Shepherd was right to pull his transfer to Aston Villa at the last second, although it was for different reasons that Fred made the decision. Shifting from the left-wing into a support role up front, the 20-year-old created the biggest threat for the Magpies all evening.
Palermo had shown the more going forward inside the opening 10 minutes and Craig Moore twice came to the rescue of Krul with last-ditch clearances.
Krul, the second youngest player to ever play in Europe for Newcastle, looked a little nervous and his kicking was particularly wayward with the home side's brightest player Franco Brienza almost capitalising on a poor clearance, only to fire over from 25 yards.
As the visitors began to push forwards again, Milner provided the opportunity for Luque to open his account for the season, and he did not disappoint either.
With Barzagli and Hernan Dellafiore both stood like statues in the middle, Luque stole in between the pair to head in Milner's left-wing cross and give Newcastle a lead they perhaps merited on the balance of play.
The goal was only the second Palermo had conceded at the Renzo Barbera in seven European games, the first since September 9 last year.
And the scorer back then will be familiar to Newcastle fans - Georgian midfielder Temuri Ketsbaia who netted for Anorthosis Famagusta in a 2-1 defeat.
Palermo were keen not to lose their unbeaten home European record, though, and camped in the Newcastle half for the second half.
It was backs-to-the-wall stuff for Roeder's men, but just as the Newcastle manager had predicted on Wednesday, it was time for one of his youngsters to make a name for himself.
After a good hour's play, Krul had certainly settled down and began to repay Roeder's faith with a string of good saves.
Palermo substitutes Giuseppe Biava and David Di Michele both failed to beat him as Brienza's left-wing free-kick seemed certain to produce the equaliser.
First, Krul dived low to tip Biava's stooping header to his left and then he got back onto his feet to block Di Michele's follow-up.
The Dutch shot-stopper then produced another top-drawer save to deny Andrea Carracciolo as Palermo increased the pressure.
But several wayward passes convinced the home fans it was not going to be their night and Newcastle were comfortably able to play out time.