Beardsley vows to make amends

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The Independent Online
Peter Beardsley is used to taking the plaudits rather than the flak, but yesterday the Newcastle United captain owned up to the blunder that left his team walking an Uefa Cup tightrope and promised: "I'll put it right in a fortnight."

The 35-year-old's peerless passing had propelled Newcastle to the top of Premiership at Derby on Saturday, but on Tuesday night in Budapest Beardsley's sureness of touch deserted him at the worst time, as he gifted Krisztian Lisztes the winner in Newcastle's 3-2 defeat against Ferencvaros.

Beardsley was quick, however, to come to terms with his inadvertent role in the match- winner. "I was to blame for the third goal and I've got to hold my hands up and admit I was at fault," Beardsley said. "There can be no excuses for what I did. I made a mistake and I know it. All I want now is the chance to make amends and puts things right in the second leg."

While Beardsley's error was costly, at least he and his team-mates returned from Hungary with the knowledge that the tie was still there for the winning.

When shocking lapses at the back let in Ferenc Horvath and Lisztes to give Ferencvaros a two-goal lead inside 17 minutes, the Tynesiders' European dream was looking in tatters. But Les Ferdinand hauled the Magpies back into the game when he converted Alan Shearer's cross, and Shearer himself then found the target for his fourth goal in a week to give Kevin Keegan's men the priceless asset of two away goals.

Ferdinand acknowledged the value of his ninth strike of the season. "It was a very important goal for me, and probably the most important I've scored since I came to the club," he said. "Certainly it made a big difference to us, and it might prove to be the one that keeps us in the competition. We knew we had to try to score an away goal, and luckily we got two when we needed them most."

It has now been three goals in three games in the Uefa Cup for Ferdinand this term, but the pounds 6m striker does not entirely agree with the suggestion that the European business is an easy proposition.

"I wouldn't say easy, but it's been good for me so far, and I hope that continues," he said. "We made the sort of start you have nightmares about. You can't account for individual errors and we got really punished.

"When we were two down after 15 minutes it was looking pretty grim, but we managed to stick to our task rather than getting blown away. We always felt we could score goals, and we managed to pull it back, although after getting ourselves back in it we're disappointed that we didn't go on to win it."

Perhaps they would have done if the Swedish referee, Leif Sundell, had not allowed the Ukrainian defender Sergei Kuznyecov to get away with a 90-minute display of wrestling and balking which left Alan Shearer angry and frustrated.

Shearer, whose mood was not helped by the last-minute offside flag that ruled out a perfectly legal equaliser, accused the defender of "being inside my shirt all night". Ferdinand, who received more than his own fair shares of bruises from Janos Hrutka before picking up a caution, agreed with Shearer, complaining that the officials had not applied the laws consistently.

"He booked one of them early on, but I think he lost his bottle a bit after that and decided he wasn't going to send anybody off. It didn't help when Alan's goal was disallowed at the end. He couldn't have been offside, because Rob Lee pulled it back, so there's no chance he was.

"But it was given and now we've got a big test back at St James' in a fortnight. The good thing is that with the two away goals we know a 1- 0 win, or even 2-1, will get us through. I think we all know that they'll come to Newcastle, put 11 men behind the ball and say 'come and beat us'. But we opened them up a few times and that gives us the belief that we can do it again and get it right next time."

If Newcastle think they have got problems advancing, then they should look at the dilemma Aberdeen have got themselves in after losing 2-0 at home to Brondby on Tuesday.

Yesterday, the Aberdeen assistant manager, Tommy Craig, conceded that the former Arsenal midfielder John Jensen was right with his claim that Scottish sides are not skilful enough to succeed in Europe.

Jensen, now the midfield general of Brondby, branded the Dons as technically inept and insisted a change in style was necessary to beat the best the Continent had to offer.

Craig, who is also the Scotland Under-21 manager, has argued as much for years but knows it will take a fundamental change in approach to make that a reality. "What annoys me about our result is that we have seen it all before. We flirted with control but were never really in charge of the game. Brondby were teetering at stages and looked there for the taking but we lost bad goals just at the end of each half and paid the penalty," he said.

"Those wounds were self-inflicted and, although our boys showed honesty in looking for goals, there was a naivety that went along with that. We proved our football is not suited to Europe and we need to get the fine balance right between playing at home and abroad."

More football, page 31

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