Cisse heads Newcastle into last eight of the Europa League
An injury-time strike from Newcastle’s Senegalese hit-man Papiss Cissé lead Newcastle United past ten-man Anzhi Makhachkala and into the last eight stage of the Europa League. The 93rd minute winner proved to be the last action of a game that lacked a certain zing.
The goal proved to be the only one in the two-legged tie after the first leg had finished goalless and this one seemed to be destined to go in the same direction, till Cisse’s interception.
Alan Pardew made three changes to the team that took to the Luzhniki stadium in the first leg. Steven Taylor came back in to the line-up replacing the versatile James Perch, while the injured Hatem Ben Arfa made way for Papiss Cissé up front. Gabriel Obertan found no favours with the gaffer after failing to impress at Moscow and was duly replaced by Cheick Tiote in the midfield.
Anzhi boss Guus Hiddink had Mbark Boussoufa available for the game. The Moroccan international served a one-game suspension in the first leg and was named in the starting line-up in place of the injured Willian.
The visitors played on the break and looked quite dangerous. One such foray into the box by right-back Andrey Eschenko created the first real opportunity of the game as he jetted past a hapless Vurnon Anita to play it into the path of Samuel Eto’o. The Cameroon international however dragged his shot harmlessly wide.
Playing on the counter seemed to suit Anzhi and just a few minutes later Eto’o combined with Carcela-Gonzalez this time on the right to carve open the Newcastle defense via a neat one-two. Eto’o’s scuffed effort saw the ball land at the feat of Lassana Diarra but a wonderful last ditch tackle from Steven Taylor saw to that Newcastle remain unscathed.
Taylor was proving to be a wall and the difference between the two teams in the early going. A few minutes later, the Geordie lad rescued his team again; this time he came in to halt Lassana Diarra’s progress with a timely tackle. Then within a couple of minutes Taylor produced another timely interception. A cross from Ahmedov on the break from the left was taken care of by the England international on 25 minutes.
While Newcastle struggled to get a grip at the centre of the midfield, Diarra was starting to become more and more influential. Sylvain Marveaux on the right was the best outlet for Newcastle in the game with his pace and trickery proving to be a real handful for Zhirkov.
Newcastle were prone to a number of dubiously bad passes and 37 minutes, Yanga-Mbiwa provided a moment of panic for the home crowd as he hit a a free-kick from the edge of Newcastle’s own penalty area straight at Ahmedov. However Anzhi couldn’t capitalize on the mistake as it lead to Eto’o only being able to shoot into the side netting.
Newcastle were dealt a blow deep into the first half as skipper Yohan Cabaye had to come off with a groin strain. He was replaced by Jonas Gutierrez.
The second half saw Newcastle start proceeding reinvigorated and on the front foot as they took the game to their opponents. Moussa Sissoko was presented with a great lay off but the Frenchman could only scoff at his effort.
A few minutes later it was Steven Taylor that was presented with a glorious opportunity from six yards out. The Englishman failed to capitalise on the knock-back from Cissé from a Marveaux free-kick, hitting his shot straight at the keeper.
The turning point of the game came on 55 minutes when Carcela-Gonzalez received his marching orders from the German referee after collecting two yellows within the space of seven minutes.
The Russians however gave a great account of themselves even after going down. As Newcastle failed to either stretch the game on the flanks or quicken up the tempo, Anzhi continued create real threats on the counter. Eto’o tested Rob Elliot from a narrow angle and then on the 85th minute Boussoufa was unlucky not to put Anzhi in front as he saw saw free-kick rattle back off the crossbar.
It was Newcastle’s night and so it proved 3 minutes into stoppage time. Marveaux, who had looked most likely to produce any sort of threat for the Magpies, whipped in a delightful ball from the right after cutting back inside on his favourite left foot and Cissé was there on the spot to do the needful.
It was so late in to the game that Anzhi didn’t have the opportunity to re-start the game. The win takes Newcastle to their sixth ever trip into the last eight of any European competition and a step closer to ending their 44 year trophy drought.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Elliot; Santon, S.Taylor, Yanga-Mbiwa, Haidara; Anita (Campbell 70), Tiote, Cabaye (Jonas 37); Marveaux, Cisse, Sissoko.
ANZHI: Gabulov, Eschenko, João Carlos, Zhirkov, Ewerton, Jucilei, Carcela-González Ahmedov, L. Diarra (Shatov 74), Boussoufa, Eto’o
Referee: Deniz Aytekin (Germany)
Attendance: 45,487 (359 away fans)