Match Report: Gabriel Obertan's rare screamer against Bruges puts Newcastle on verge of last 32 in Europa League

Newcastle United 1 Bruges 0

St James' Park

Reaching a final where 32 teams still remain gives an indication of how much Newcastle still have to do in Europe's second competition, but that they are within touching distance of the knockout stage of the Europa League deserves credit.

With three games to play in their group, Alan Pardew's side sit top with a four-point advantage over the third-placed side, who by the time the rain had once more started to fall on a cold Tyneside night, was Bruges.

One second-half goal from Gabriel Obertan was enough to create daylight and the hope that this competition, which is slowly picking up pace, could yet prove something special.

For Pardew, there has been a balancing act between progress in the competition and the progress of his youngsters. Once again, his call was correct. He made nine changes to the side which drew at Sunderland in the Tyne-Wear derby last weekend. Intriguingly, one of those who started and did not finish that game, Cheick Tiote, was the player to struggle.

"Cheick was affected by the sending off on Sunday," admitted Pardew. "There was a lack of focus in his game, probably because it was so soon after Sunday's game, he is hurt. No one was more hurt that Cheick."

The eye was caught by those pushing for greater recognition. Sammy Ameobi has his brother's shadow to emerge from, Shane Ferguson craves a starting role and Obertan still has a Tyneside public to convince.

His winning goal yesterday will do no harm. Its creator was the younger Ameobi, who carved open the Bruges defence and sent Obertan scampering through. The finish was emphatic, crashing a right-footed drive past Bojan Jorgacevic.

"Gabby is pushing but he is being kept out by our best player, Hatem Ben Arfa," added Pardew. "He was brilliant tonight. He is only 23. This young group is pushing hard. (Gael) Bigirimana is showing he will be a player and Sammy and Fergie had great games for us. Fergie could peel oranges with that left foot. We are looking strong and we have to make sure they evolve. They have the foundation to become Newcastle players. The challenge lies with them. We have a really good feeling at the training ground at the minute."

Papiss Cisse could have won a first-half penalty when he tumbled under Jordi's challenge. He headed wide and in injury time his rising drive was well stopped by Jorgacevic. It is still not falling for him, but it is for Newcastle. Maxime Lestienne and Lio Refaelove both went close for the visitors, who, by the finish, had one foot out of the competition.

News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Life and Style
Could you tell the difference between this and an organic alternative?
food + drink

Culinary experts in The Netherlands thought it was 'fresh' and 'tasty'

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to US
Life and Style
tech

Of all the computers Apple has ever made there’s only one that Steve Jobs had to sell his car to finance

News
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday

Actress sees off speculation about her face in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidates on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
Arts and Entertainment
film

Marvel has released first teaser trailer week early after it leaked online

Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
Arts and Entertainment
Frank Sivero in Goodfellas; Simpsons' wise guy Louie

The sound of Goodfellas mafioso Frankie Carbone demanding $250m in “damages” would be chilling enough on film, let alone in real life.

News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
News
i100
Voices
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voicesVicky Chandler: Zoella shows us that feminism can come in all forms
Life and Style
health
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?