The Magpies put their name in the hat for tomorrow's group stage draw after a nervy night on Tyneside with a narrow one-nil win over the Greek side at the Sports Direct ArenaNewcastle United secured their place in the group stages of the Europa League with a 1-0 second leg win over Atromitos at the Sports Direct Arena to edge the tie 2-1 on aggregate.
The Magpies’ dominated the first half and deservedly took the lead from Haris Vuckic’s long-range shot which deflected past Charles Itandje after 21 minutes.
Tim Krul was fortunate not to see red and concede a penalty late in the first-half and Dusan Bejavic's side provided a scare for the hosts late on in the second, but Pardew’s men were the better team over the two legs and fully warranted the 2-1 aggregate score line.
Pardew made seven changes to the side which lost to Chelsea at the weekend with Krul, Fabio Colocinni, Danny Simpson and Demba Ba retaining their place in the team. The Magpies’ coach picked a considerably stronger line-up than he did for the first-leg with the tie finely poised at 1-1.
Atromitos manager Bajevic made only one change from the first-leg draw; highly rated 21-year-old Greek striker Apostolos Karamanos replaced Njazi Kuqi in the lone-striker position.
Newcastle made a lively start to the game; James Perch came mightily close to giving the hosts a dream start with a lovely curling effort with his right-foot from just outside the box inside five minutes. Moments later Sylvain Marveaux forced a fine save from Itandje from a tight angle after a neat one-two with Dan Gosling.
The Greeks then began to settle after the first quarter but they were dealt a cruel sucker punch in the 21st minute when Vuckic, who replaced an injured Ryan Taylor after 11 minutes, hit a speculative shot from 25 yards which took a deflection on its way past the helpless Itandje.
Atromitos coach Bajevic got an instant reaction from his players and could easily have levelled on 25 minutes as Chumbinho was played through on goal but his low effort was well saved by Krul.
That chance for the Greek’s proved to be nothing more than a brief respite as Newcastle continued to pile on the pressure. Atromitos had Itandje to thank again for keeping them in the tie; the Frenchman did well to palm away Ba’s deflected effort on the half hour before Vuckic fluffed his chance to grab a second from Gabriel Obertan’s dangerous cross.
It was all going swimmingly for the hosts with half time edging closer, when suddenly Chumbinho pounced on Krul’s fumble following Epstein’s shot, the Brazilian was then brought down by the flailing arm of the Newcastle keeper, but much to the Dutchman’s relief Stephan Suder showed the Brazilian a yellow card for simulation, when it could have easily been a penalty and a red card for Magpies’ shot stopper.
Obertan came close to giving Newcastle some breathing space in the first minute of the second half but couldn’t quite control the ball once he stepped past the Atromitos keeper in the box.
The visitors then had their best spell of the match and even had the ball in the back of the net, but Chumbinho’s effort was ruled out for offside.
The Brazilian, who was the Greek side’s main threat, was forced off with 20 minutes to play following an awkward fall and Atromitos struggled to impose themselves on the Newcastle defence from then on.
The hosts could have put the tie to bed on a couple of occasions in the final quarter. Obertan forced another good save from Itandje with a shot across the face of his goal and Marveaux wasted his chance by hesitating on the ball in a good position.
A golden chance to level the tie fell to the feet of Elini Dimoutsos with 10 minutes to go, but the Albanian fired his shot wide from close range.
Newcastle looked jaded and lacked ideas in the second half but did just about enough to hold on to their one-goal lead to advance into tommorow's group stage draw.