Newcastle's progress, or lack of it, in knockout competition this season will play a pivotal role in the job security of Glenn Roeder, so the overriding emotion was one of relief as his side took a significant stride towards ensuring their place in the post-Christmas phase of the Uefa Cup at St James' Park last night.
Antoine Sibierski's winner, finished from close range on 79 minutes as the stand-in striker diverted a Steven Taylor shot from Nolberto Solano's corner punished the utter lack of adventure shown by Fenerbahce, who appeared intent on turning the so-called group of death into the group of dearth.
Until the Frenchman's intervention which served to paper over some alarming cracks in a performance which posed more questions than it answered, it appeared the patched-up hosts would have to settle for a share of the spoils, something of a shortfall of the "minimum" of two home wins the Newcastle manager feels are a prerequisite for progress.
Sibierski, whose free transfer from Manchester City in August was met with at best apathy from supporters, now has two winning goals in Europe this season. "He wasn't that well received when he signed, and that's given him an extra motivation," said the Newcastle manager.
Roeder's side fashioned just about all the modest number of openings carved out in a tense contest, but a combination of hurried finishing, fine defending and the agility of goalkeeper Rustu Recber looked set to continue Newcastle's frustrating start to the season.
Recber produced a fine save to thwart Obafemi Martins midway through the second-half as Newcastle showed effort and commitment in abundance in the general absence of much quality.
Charles N'Zogbia fired into the side netting and also saw decent penalty claims ignored as Onder Turaci batted down his header with an arm, the busy defender then blocking James Milner's cut-back which was destined for the lurking Martins six yards out.
"We're upset to lose, because we deserved a point," insisted Zico, the Fenerbahce manager. "We're not out of it yet, and I'm certain this group will go down to the last day."
Roeder will hope that Newcastle's progress is sealed long before then.
Newcastle United (4-4-2): Harper; Carr, Taylor, Ramage, Duff; Milner, Parker, Emre (Butt, 54); N'Zogbia (Solano, 64), Sibierski, Martins (Ameobi, 75). Substitutes not used: Krul (gk), Luque, Moore, Bramble.
Fenerbahce (4-4-2): Rustu; Turaci, Lugano, Edu Dracena, Ozat (Deivid, 81); Yozgatli (Boral, 69), Appiah, Aurelio, Sanli; Kezman, Alex. Substitutes not used: Demirel (gk), Metin, Arat, Baris, Balci.
Referee: G Gilewski (Poland).Reuse content