Football: Monaco mastery denies Dalglish

UEFA CUP QUARTER-FINAL: Anderson's deft strike leaves stunned Newcastle lamenting missing firepower
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Newcastle United 0 Monaco 1

As the son of one of Alfred Hitchcock's leading ladies, Prince Albert of Monaco might be expected to appreciate a bit of suspense now and again. From the seat he occupied in St James' Park's Milburn Stand last night, though, the heir to the Grimaldi throne saw the principality's football club effectively take the thrill out of their Uefa Cup quarter-final with Newcastle.

The clinical finish delivered just before the hour mark by Anderson da Silva leaves the French league leaders with distinctly bright prospects of progressing to the last four at the expense of Kenny Dalglish's team.

It was a good night for the visiting royal, who is Monaco's chief benefactor. But for King Kenny, without his three prized strikers, there was no 46th birthday present.

Only once before had Newcastle failed to beat a Continental club in European competition at St James' Park. And Bastia's Uefa Cup success 20 years ago was the last time an English team were knocked out by French opponents.

Monaco, in fact, stand to become only the third French league club ever to prevail over English rivals, Lyon's European Cup-Winners' Cup victory against Spurs two decades ago being the only other Gallic triumph in 21 Anglo-French encounters.

The Toon Army doubtless feared the worst when Newcastle lined up without Les Ferdinand, Alan Shearer and Faustino Asprilla, and with Peter Beardsley, having been concussed in training on Monday, held in reserve on the substitutes' bench.

Robert Lee was obliged to become reacquainted with the central striking role he valiantly performed in his Charlton days. As he foraged in isolation, however, Newcastle looked exactly what they were - a team without a focal point.

Invariably shadowed by two red and white shirts, Lee was only able to exert a minimal influence. His best moment came when drifting wide to deliver a cross Keith Gillespie headed wide midway through the first-half. By then, the menace of Monaco's lightning-quick attacking thrusts had already materialised.

Ali Benarbia, the Algerian playmaker whose brother, Momo, briefly sampled the delights of Unibond League football with Blyth Spartans earlier this season, supplied an inviting ball over the top for Anderson to test Shaka Hislop's reflexes with a fiercely struck low volley.

If the threat posed by Anderson, the top scorer in French football last season, was not enough to concern Hislop and his colleagues, the searing pace of Thierry Henry provided them with further food for thought.

That the 19-year-old whom Arsene Wenger blooded in Monaco's first team two years ago is the Real thing (the Madrid club being reportedly close to securing his signature) was confirmed by the blinding break which ripped down Newcastle's left and provided Anderson with a clear chance he ought to have buried.

Newcastle had Hislop to thank for reaching half-time on level terms. John Collins' curling free-kick was heading for the bottom-right corner of the Gallowgate End goal until the Trinidadian got his fingertips to the ball.

The Scot in the Monaco camp had a small army of supporters from his native Galashiels and they were celebrating, along with Prince Albert, when Anderson struck in the 59th minute.

Benarbia was the prompter with a precise pass into the right of the Newcastle box, but Henry was the provider, taking instant control of the ball and racing to the byline before pulling it back for Anderson, who dispatched his shot high into the far corner of the Leazes End goal.

St James' Park sighed despairingly, but then with relief when Martin Djetou missed a sitter of a header five minutes later. The only real scare for Monaco came 10 minutes from time, when Fabien Barthez denied Gillespie with what was more of a block than a full-blown save.

The only glimmer of good news for Newcastle was that the hamstring damage Ferdinand suffered against Southampton last Saturday is not as serious as had been feared. The pounds 6m striker might even be fit to face Liverpool at Anfield on Monday night but seems certain to play alongside Asprilla, who was suspended last night, in Monaco on 18 March.

"We have achieved our aim here," Jean Tigana, the Monaco coach, said, "but I expect the return leg to be more difficult. With Ferdinand and Asprilla in the Newcastle team, they will pose us different problems."

That is the hope to which Dalglish must cling when he takes his team to Prince Albert's playground.

Newcastle United (4-5-1): Hislop; Watson, Peacock, Albert, Elliott; Gillespie, Batty, Barton, Clark, Ginola; Lee. Substitutes not used: Beardsley, Crawford, Beresford, Barrett, Srnicek (gk).

Monaco (4-4-2): Barthez; Martin, Dumas, Grimandi, Blondeau; Legwinski, Djetou, Collins, Benarbia; Anderson, Henry (Ikpeba, 78). Substitutes not used: Grassi, Irles, Diao, Porato (gk).

Referee: P Ceccarini (Italy).

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