Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Euro Success, but Bigger Tests Await

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Euro Success, but Bigger Tests Await

Article excerpt

Byline: By John Gibson

Consider if you will that Newcastle's tortured and oft- criticised defence kept a clean sheet on European duty, not with bear-trap tackling at left-back but the dainty, dancing feet of one Damien Duff.

For almost an hour in Estonia, after United's biggest offender Titus Bramble went off injured, the Magpies played with their Stanley Matthews as a defender rather than risk Olivier Bernard, who is well short of match fitness.

That they were still not troubled by Levadia tells you much about the poor quality of opposition the UEFA Cup provides in the early rounds.

Even when Newcastle, alarmingly, tired in the second half and were playing that makeshift back four they were not put under the sort of pressure expected away from home.

Do we think West Ham and Liverpool will be more of a defensive test in their own kingdom over the next five days? You bet we do!

However, let us be grateful for a 1-0 victory last night after poor Premiership form and also take encouragement from the fact that, Bramble having gifted the Estonian League leaders a golden chance at the back post and departed with knee and ankle injuries, Craig Moore and Peter Ramage looked as solid as St Mary's Lighthouse at the centre of defence.

Moore may be short of pace but certainly not of brains and he talks whoever is at his shoulder through a game. The Aussie was United's star performer along with Emre, who sprayed the ball around confidently.

Moore almost sneaked into United's team unnoticed towards the end of last season after an interminable spell injured, but he has quietly done a job in a shell-shocked and regularly criticised rearguard. Only the quickness of feet and not of thought catches him out.

While Oba Martins has now gone three games without a goal, it took fellow new boy Antoine Sibierski only 10 minutes of his debut to net. …

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