Yohan Cabaye helps Newcastle finally find their Europa League feet with victory over Bordeaux
Newcastle United 3 Bordeaux 0
The first statement of the season; emphatic, comfortable and dominant. Newcastle United have waited since August for their campaign to ignite. Only time will tell if it started with a well-constructed victory over a side who had not lost in their last 17 games in all competitions, but when Alan Pardew punched the air to celebrate his team's third goal, from the foot of the out-of-sorts Papiss Cissé, it felt like a gear change.
It felt like a football club had woken to the challenge of the current campaign, one that presents itself with Manchester United and Sunderland as their next opponents. Those two games will go some way to defining the entire campaign, as they did last season.
There had been a need for a forming of momentum, and Pardew got that last night. Bordeaux had beaten Club Brugge 4-0 in their opening group D game. They were never allowed to express themselves in anything like that fashion, a chance spurned by the Polish forward Ludovic Obraniak as much as they would create. That was in the sixth minute. Their belief drained, a 17-match unbeaten run that stretched back to April, not enough to provide a severe test, as Pardew turned to his big players – Yohan Cabaye, Cissé and Cheick Tiote – to spark a season. He felt that, and much more, had been achieved.
"There is so much to be pleased about," he said. "We didn't have to work as hard as I thought we would. We didn't want a helter-skelter game with Manchester United here in two days' time.
"I was just pleased with the way we approached the game, I was pleased with the way we saw the game out. You can see we've worked on our control of the game.
"I've been critical, more so in the dressing room than in the press, about our performances. I wanted us to play with more verve, energy and ambition, and we did that. Tactically and the work of the team and our energy needed to improve to the standards we set last year. We set ourselves standards last year that we have not reached until tonight in my opinion. This place will be rocking on Sunday on the back of this performance.
"They are a strong side. The goals hurt them and gave us a platform to play as well as we did."
The real platform was Cabaye, who had admitted during the week that playing his first major summer tournament (the European Championship) had affected his season to date (and therefore Newcastle's).
There was no sign of that last night as he returned to orchestrating his English team. He had already shot narrowly wide twice before he found his passing range with stunning effect, picking out team-mate Gabriel Obertan 50 yards away with a diagonal pass that dissected Bordeaux. Obertan produced fine skill down the Newcastle left, drilled a low cross into the six area and from inside there, Shola Ameobi scored his 13th goal in European competition for the club.
A second would arrive four minutes before the interval when Danny Simpson crossed and Henrique, the Bordeaux defender struck his clearance into his own goal. There was more purpose to Newcastle's third, which came four minutes after the interval, when Shane Ferguson crossed deep from the left and Cissé's first-time shot went in off a post.
"We came up against the better side," said Francis Gillot. "That was clear in terms of finishing. Every time they had a chance they put it in the back of the net."
Newcastle have now not lost at home in European competition for 21 games. That, along with the possibility their season is waking up, threatens to make the Europa League interesting.
Man of match Cabaye.
Match rating 7/10.
Referee A M Lahoz (Sp).
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