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UEFA Europa League

  • April 11, 2013
  • • 20:05
  • • St. James' Park, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
  • Referee: I. Bebek
  • • Attendance: 52157
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Benfica win Aggregate 4 - 2

Newcastle 1-1 Benfica (Agg: 2-4): Magpies bow out despite Cisse strike

Newcastle 1-1 Benfica (Agg: 2-4): Magpies bow out despite Cisse strike

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The Magpies' European adventure came to an end despite a spirited performance as Benfica earned a 1-1 draw which booked their place in Friday's semi-final draw

Newcastle were knocked out of Europe on Thursday evening despite a battling performance against Portuguese giants Benfica at St. James’ Park.

Papiss Cisse's second half header gave the home side a fighting chance with twenty minutes remaining but they left themselves with too much to do before Salvio's late strike ensured it was the visitors who progress to the last four.

Pardew was forced to shuffle his pack as Mike Williamson came in for the injured Steven Taylor at centre-back while Gael Bigirimana started in midfield ahead of Sylvain Marveaux.

And it was the visitors who started brightly as they searched for an early away goal which would have killed off any chance of a Newcastle comeback.

The Mapgies had goalkeeper Tim Krul to thank for keeping them in the tie before some of the 52,000 sell-out crowd had even taken their seats.  Andre Almeida’s powerful low cross from the right was flicked goalwards by Lima, only for Krul to make an instinctive save with his foot.

Benfica continued to dominate the early exchanges and maintain their control of the tie with Brazilian veteran Luisao at the heart of their imperious defensive line.

However, as the half wore on the home side began to find their feet and, if it wasn’t for a heavy touch by Cisse, may have pulled one back after a deft ball over the top.

Benfica showed a clinical edge in the first leg but wasted a glorious opportunity to all but book their place in Friday’s semi-final draw after an error of judgement from Krul shortly before the half-hour mark.

The Dutch shot stopper came racing out of his goal to collect a harmless long ball but his misjudgement allowed Lima to pull it back for Nicolas Gaitan to slot it home into the unguarded net, only for Massadio Haidara to sprint back and hack the ball away on the goal-line.

Jorge Jesus’ side continued to exert pressure on the home goal, but Salvio couldn’t direct his back post header on target before Krul made a smart save from Enzo Peréz’s well struck volley.

The passionate home fans raised the decibel level in an attempt to lift their side and the Mapgies responded as Jonas Gutierrez went on a mazy run before his dangerous cross was cleared by Luisao.

It took until the 44th minute for the home side to muster a noteworthy effort on goal but Cisse strayed a yard offside, and the linesman rightly raised his flag as the Senegalese forward swept home a cross from Bigirimana.

Half-time came at the wrong time for Newcastle as they began to push the visitors back towards their own box, but the introduction of Shola Ameobi at the break maintained the momentum that was gained by Pardew’s side before the whistle.

Benfica had kept clean sheets in three of their last five European away games but were on the edge as the Magpies stepped up the intensity.

But despite their large amount of possession the home side failed to force Artur into a meaningful save and after breaking down the Benfica defence, Cisse was once again flagged offside after converting from an Ameobi flick on.

However, the introduction of Hatem Ben Arfa gave Newcastle an extra dimension and they gave themselves a lifeline with twenty minutes remaining. Ameobi’s rifled cross was headed in from close range by Cisse after a mix-up between Matic and Garay on the right.

The home side continued to apply the pressure but Benfica showed all their European know-how and experience to close out the remaining minutes without too much alarm, reducing Newcastle to ambitious long-range efforts.

And the Portuguese giants saved themselves from enduring a late Toon onslaught when substitute Rodrigo squared for Salvio, who finished emphatically to seal the aggregate victory.

Newcastle’s attention now switches to Sunday as they try and ensure their Premier League survival.

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