Magpies cry foul after Cisse denied by tight call
Published 15/02/2013 | 04:00
Papiss Cisse had two goals disallowed as Newcastle failed to claim the first-leg lead over Metalist Kharkiv they so desperately wanted to take to Ukraine.
The Senegal international had a 23rd-minute effort controversially ruled out for offside, and then another 16 minutes from time for the same reason to leave the Magpies facing a stern test in next Thursday's second leg.
Cisse also passed up a series of other opportunities, the last of them an injury-time header from point-blank range, as the Magpies gradually gained the upper hand over the visitors, who nevertheless did more than enough on Tyneside to show they will be intensely difficult to beat on their own pitch.
Indeed, had it not been for 'keeper Tim Krul, who made a fine first-half save to keep out Cleiton Xavier's header, Newcastle's task might have been even more difficult. Metalist 'keeper Olexandr Goryainov also had to be at his best to deny Cisse either side of half-time and Moussa Sissoko late on, but the Ukrainians, for whom Jose Ernesto Sosa and fellow midfielder Marlos caused problems, were good value for their draw.
The visitors arrived on Tyneside having not played a competitive match since their last European game, a 1-0 away defeat by Rapid Vienna on December 6 when their place at the top of Group K had already been assured.
However, Alan Pardew had warned his players in advance not to expect ring-rusty opposition, and his advice proved well-founded as they gave as good as they got.
The Newcastle manager fielded as strong a side as he could with Mathieu Debuchy and Yoan Gouffran ineligible and Hatem Ben Arfa still working his way back to fitness, but they had things far from their own way during the opening 45 minutes.
Indeed Myron Markevich's men arguably enjoyed the better chances with Krul having to pull off two important saves.