Newcastle 1 Atromitos 0
Haris Vuckic’s first senior Newcastle goal was enough to send the Magpies into the group stage of the Europa League.
The 20-year-old Slovenia international struck 21 minutes into the second leg of the club’s play-off clash with Greek side Atromitos to seal a 2-1 aggregate victory.
However, although Alan Pardew’s men dominated on the night, they were unable to kill the tie off before the final whistle and enjoyed a major escape when goalkeeper Tim Krul appeared to fell Chumbinho in the box two minutes before the break, only to see the Brazilian midfielder pick up a booking for diving.
Had it not been for the excellence of Atromitos keeper Charles Itandje, who at times was left to repel Newcastle single-handedly, the home side’s place in today’s draw in Monaco would have been assured long before the game drew to a close.
The Magpies were on the front foot from the off despite losing Ryan Taylor through injury with just 11 minutes gone.
Taylor’s departure — he collapsed in agony after challenging for a ball on the touchline — saw James Perch drop in at left-back to accommodate Vuckic in the middle of the field.
The youngster needed just 10 minutes to make his mark, turning smartly on to Simpson’s throw-in before lashing a left-foot shot past Itandje, with the help of a slight deflection, from 22 yards.
The visitors might have been back in the game and the tie two minutes before the break after Krul’s gaffe — the referee sparing his blushes and causing some astonishment by booking Chumbinho for a dive instead of pointing to the spot.
With the game entering its final 30 minutes and the Magpies yet to end it as a contest, the Greeks made their final push, committing men to the search for an equaliser which would take the tie into extra-time.
Newcastle wasted several presentable chances before Anastasios Karamanos fired high over Krul’s goal. Elini Dimoutsos was even more wasteful 11 minutes from time when he dragged a shot across goal with only Krul to beat. Denis Epstein blasted inches over the top in injury-time, but there was no way back for Dusan Bajevic’s battlers.
NEWCASTLE: Krul, Simpson, Coloccini, Williamson, Ryan Taylor (Vuckic 11), Obertan, Bigirimana, Perch (Tavernier 59), Marveaux (Amalfitano 90), Gosling, Ba.
ATROMITOS: Itandje, Skondras, Fitanidis, Lazaridis, Giannoulis, Iglesias, Brito (Kuqi 88), Dimoutsos (Garcia 85), Chumbinho (Beljic 75), Epstein, Karamanos.
Referee: Stephan Studer (Sui).
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