Half time: Panionios 0 Newcastle 1
Jermaine Jenas played the ball up to Shola Ameobi on the edge of the area
and Shola turned
sharply, tried to get through two defenders and tumbled over the challenge
Alan Shearer fired the penalty into his favourite top left corner over
the 'keeper, who had guessed correctly. 1-0
Full time: Panionios 0 Newcastle 1
Graeme Souness said:
"We have to be happy with three points in difficult
"The tactics of the opposition made life difficult, they didn’t get people
forward and tried to play on the break. One goal was always going to be enough, they were never going to step out and
make it an even game."
"We dominated the game throughout and were worthy winners.
"They showed us great respect by playing like that, they were similar tactics to
the Greek national team when they won the European competition.
"I thought we were disciplined throughout, controlled things throughout and the
longer the game went on, it was all about whether we were going to get a chance
to get a goal."
About the penalty and Shearer:
yards away, but it looked like a penalty to me. He’s a big boy and he’s used to pressure situations."
About the pitch:
attacking, you want a fast pitch and a smooth pitch, and that wasn't the
"When you're defending, you want a slow pitch where you want the opposition
to always have to take a second touch.
"That slowed us down tonight, that's why we've just won by one goal. The
pitch was the biggest problem we encountered."
Penalty scorer Shearer said:
"It was hard work. If anyone's been to these places they know it's hard
work, the pitch was in a bad state and they mark you very tightly.
"There was only one team going to win that game and we thought it would only
take one goal to open them up, but as it happened it took us 87 minutes to
"We knew that the French team had gone to Tblisi and won so we know that we
had to win."
Craig Bellamy said:
difficult for me with everything going on, but you saw me out there running
all over the place - even defending at the end. I love the club, I love Newcastle and this is the only place I want to
"It was always going to be tough tonight - it was a very bumpy pitch. We
knew if we could keep a clean sheet than we would have a chance.
"We knew these points are valuable with it being a group stage."
Karol Pecze said:
“When you’re playing in a group stage, you always
try to estimate how many points you will get at home. We wanted to get as
many points as we could at home.
“These three have gone, but there are a lot more to play for and we’ll
About the penalty:
“It’s always a very difficult decision in a tight match, but the referee
had to make it and he gave the penalty.”
Wor Karol didn't have much time to elaborate further, as Panionios chose
to discontinue his employment within 24 hours of our game.
Second appearance of the new
"lucky" yellow away kit. Two wins so far.
Shay Given made his 42nd European appearance for the club to
extend the appearance record further, despite the imminent birth of his
Shearer scored his 21st goal in Europe and has
now netted 180 Toon goals - Milburn got 200.
James Milner's first European start after two sub appearances
in the first round against Sakhnin.
Our first tie against Greek opposition: we've now faced teams
from 21 countries (including England - Southampton in the Fairs
What a year for the travelling Mag.
Putting aside the not-insignificant fact we're competing in a
second-rate European competition for the second season running, 2004 has
seen opportunities to watch the lads in locations hitherto only
From the incendiary atmosphere of Marseille to the rain in Spain, via a
foray up the fjords and latterly the Israel experience, the UEFA Cup draw
has offered up exciting new venues to reach...and drain those precious
reserves of leave and funds.
It's a given that things are never easy where we are concerned and this time
it was UEFA playing their joker by drawing the smoggies to play in Athens at
the same time, while also handing Arsenal a Champions League tie in the city
some 24 hours previously.
While the media hype machine went into warp drive, with the Daily Record
predicting carnage at the Acropolis and the Chronicle dreaming up a figure
of 2,000 Teesside travellers, the reality was slightly more mundane: all
told less than 1,000 made the trip over in total - around 350 following the
gunners and in the region of 300 at each of the UEFA Cup games.
Of course it was easy to tell the Boro fans on the plane
from Newcastle - they were the ones concentrating intently on the pre-flight
safety demonstration and opening up their meal with the relish of a
hyper-active child on Christmas morning.
Those of us in black and white of course were rather more laid back about
such matters, now being seasoned travellers, but we obeyed the club
instructions not to associate with the boro boys and girls - and later found
out via a third party that they'd been issued with the same advice about
staying away from nasty Geordies.
The small numbers travelling and the vastness of the city of Athens
did mean that it was fairly difficult to even find local football fans,
never mind English supporters, but occasional groups could be found
sitting outside bars or cafes in a very low-key manner.
Inevitably, sights such as the Parthenon had its fair share of visitors on
matchday for that essential photographic record of the trip - it was a bit
of a trek to get there in the heat, but believe me, the view of the city
from the top was worth every step...
As night fell, travelling to the ground was simplified by
catching one of the sleek new trams from Syntagma Square (less than 3 euro
for a 24 hour pass including the airport bus), then walking through a fairly
opulent residential area to reach the stadium, tucked away in the
The usual street sellers and corner bars were in evidence outside the
ground, but the local fans were more placid than expected and the atmosphere
outside before the game was cordial, with riot police in evidence, but
finding little to do except escort a party of Newcastle officials into the
ground - from the way Shepherd and Co. feigned deafness as they walked past,
the coppers were presumably to protect them from toon fans, not Greeks.
Also spotted near the ground were a familiar part of the Athens street scene
- stray dogs. Quite simply they're everywhere: sleeping on the pavement
outside McDonalds, following groups of tourists across pedestrian crossings
and generally being a nuisance.
Flares greet the arrival of the teams - note
the empty end of the three-side stadium.
The away section consisted of one uncovered corner of the
ground, with the usual seats bolted on to the terraces and a small bar which
sold Heineken throughout the game (and none of your alcohol-free stuff
either) but took precautions by pouring the lager into coca cola cups.
Meanwhile, a few locals opted to watch the game from nearby balconies and
roof tops rather than pay the admission fee, with one group above and behind
the away end craning to see in, with kebabs in one hand and drinks in the
other - the overall laid-back atmosphere was almost like a cricket
match, with the police presence low-key and only the 40 minute post-match
holdback in the ground being an irritation.
The main stand at Nea Smyrni - a
between a dog track and Gateshead stadium
Like the second leg of the Israel tie, this game almost
assumed secondary importance, with it widely being assumed that the home
side would present easy pickings for Shearer and Co.
In the event though, after a bright start that woke their fans up, the
negativity of the Greeks and the unevenness of the grassy pitch presented us
with a hurdle that we almost didn't overcome.
It's virtually unheard of for a team playing at home in
any one-off to approach a match with quite the lack of adventure Panionios
showed against us - and that unadventurous approach was to cost the coach
his job after the game, apparently after some booing from the home fans that
was about on a par with the pocket of disenchantment that caused Jackie
Charlton to abdicate when Newcastle manager - they were hardly manning the
It's tempting to write that Panionios took inspiration from the success of
Greece in Euro 2004, but that theory falls down when considering both the
league of nations-type ensemble of the side, plus the fact that even the
Greeks tried to score goals at times.
As it was, Given's first half dive to push a Breska header away was the only
time he got his gloves dirty, while at the other end our efforts to open the
scoring were hampered by some inept passing and thoroughly uninspiring
Robert was especially culpable in both regards, with his set pieces
provoking derision from the toon section, as did his languorous wandering
across the field - looking as if he'd popped out for a copy of Le Monde, not
to play in a football match.
But while the Frenchman flitted around and often went missing, Milner toiled
away on the opposite flank and Bowyer tried to kick people, at least Bellamy
was trying to make headway, while Jenas showed some maturity and filled in
the gaps with his energetic prompting and tackling.
JJ should have scored before the break, but fluffed his
lines (as did Shearer), leaving Souness to try and instill some much-needed
urgency and organisation into his troops at the interval.
The second half was at least an improvement on the opening 45 minutes, in
that it occasionally threatened to become mediocre, but at least we started
to show signs of banging on the door - even if genuine goalmouth excitement
was a rarity and the stand-in home 'keeper wasn't being seriously tested.
With three quarters of the game gone, Shola was introduced into the mix and
turned the heat up a notch or two with his individual skills. A better
referee would have booked him for a inept attempt at winning a penalty with
a blatant dive, but three minutes from time he looked to be genuinely
impeded in the area and you know who stepped up to drill the ball home
before running to the nearby toon section, having ensured that we'd leave
Athens with at least one happy football-related
Full time and the victors greet
the away support - or at least
ten of them do, a certain Mr. Bellamy having lost his way en route....