Match Report: Alan Pardew rages after linesman denies Newcastle striker Papiss Cissé twice
Newcastle United 0 Metalist Kharkiv 0
The salute from Alan Pardew was not for victory. Instead, as the full-time whistle blew at St James' Park, the two fingers were pointed angrily in the direction of referee Tom Hagen's assistant.
Twice Papiss Cissé had beaten the Metalist Kharkiv goalkeeper Olexandr Goryainov, once in each half. Each time his goal celebrations were cut short by the flag of an assistant. Television replays showed that his first effort, which came in the 24th minute, should perhaps have stood. The second, with just 15 minutes remaining, was more tight as Cissé steered a Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa cross into the Metalist goal. Pardew however, was adamant that the two efforts should have stood.
"Both goals were goals," he said. "You see the replays, you can see that. The first one I was a little bit undecided from where I stood. The second one I thought was a definitive goal. That is tough to take. Those goals are the margins. Both decisions were level.
"He could have two goals to his name if the decision had gone his way. When you get decisions like that against you it puts fire in your belly. We are very disappointed with those decision and will take that into the second leg.
"Papiss hasn't seen the replays and it will hinder his sleep. All strikers feel a lot better when they score. He will be disappointed when he sees the goals again. He's a natural finisher and he was very unlucky not to score tonight.
"He keeps getting in there and looking sharp and Moussa Sissoko was brilliant again. I thought the referee was excellent. The two decisions were the linesman's call."
His calls have made next week's return leg in the Ukraine a more difficult prospect as Newcastle bid to make the last 16 of the Europa League. Metalist had not played a competitive game since 6 December. They will be stronger for it.
Pardew, however, believes his team are still favourites to progress. "They didn't surprise us, they were fresh, you could see that," he said. "They played well for long periods. I don't think my team could have played much better and we should have won the game."
That was a fair summary. It was a strange game for Cissé, who has had a strange season. He first thought he had scored from a Sissoko pass. As the powerful midfielder burst through on the left, he was flagged but replays suggested he had timed the run correctly. The second came from a Yanga-Mbiwa cross. Each time he was the last person to realise they had not stood. He had three more opportunities to beat Goryainov and the referee's assistant.
In the first half a delightful ball from Yohan Cabaye sent Cissé through, one on one with Goryainov. The goalkeeper saved. In the 71st minute, a steered, first-time shot was similarly stopped by the visitors' goalkeeper. In the third and final minute of injury time, Goryainov again denied the Sengalese forward's point blank, close-range header.
Metalist had chances of their own. Tim Krul did well to deny Xavier's header on the half hour and Cristaldo shot into the side-netting when well placed. "Fifty-fifty," said Myron Markevich, the Metalist coach when asked who was favourites to go through. That felt about right.
Man of the match Sissoko.
Match rating 7/10.
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