Newcastle will play in the Champions League for the first time in 21 years
Newcastle have secured a place in the Champions League group stage – they will play in the main European Cup for the first time since the 2003/04 season. Then the team did not get into the group stage – they stumbled over Partizan in the third round of qualification.
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In the third round of the Champions League qualification, Newcastle dealt with the Bosnian Zeleznicar (1:0, 4:0) and got into the first group stage – Juventus, Dynamo Kiev and Feyenoord.
Newcastle failed the first two matches: they lost to Dynamo in Kyiv (0:2) and unexpectedly flew away from Feyenoord to St. James Park (0:1). Probably this happened due to the fact that we did not have a specific tactic for these matches – we were simply told to go out and take ours. We had a good team, but in the Champions League it’s not enough just to have an outrageous attitude – you also need to be tactically savvy.
The match in the Netherlands was especially emotional. After a three-match ban received after the first match with Dynamo, Craig Bellamy returned – he drove the team forward. At the beginning of the second half, Bellamy opened the scoring, and five minutes later Hugo Viana doubled it – it seemed that the game was done.
Inter and Barça were not allowed into the quarter-finals
In the second group stage, Newcastle were waiting for Inter, Barca and Bayer. The team and fans were set for a victorious continuation – but the fairy tale did not happen.
Everything didn’t go according to plan. In the fifth minute of the match against Inter at St James’ Park, Bellamy was kicked off the field again – for aggressive behavior against Marco Materazzi, who provoked the Welshman. Craig soldered a ban for three matches – the second time in a single Champions League. “When I saw the opponents in the second group stage, I dreamed that after these matches I would go down in history. But in the end, I didn’t get into it the way I wanted,” Bellamy said.
After the match (Newcastle lost 1:4), Alan Shearer also caught a two-match disk – he hit Fabio Cannavaro with his elbow. “They were very smart and took advantage of our inexperience. Yes, I hit Cannavaro with my elbow, but he also fouled me – UEFA took this into account when sentencing,” Shearer explained.
Lost to Newcastle and the match against Barca at Camp Nou – 1:3. “Me and Gary Speed were up against Thiago Motta, Xavi and Juan Riquelme in midfield. For most of the game we were just running around the field because we couldn’t do anything. After the game, I was so tired that the next morning I could not move my legs. Sir Bobby received 25 e-mails after the match, in which the fans demanded that I be removed from the team, ”said Dyer.
Double matches with “Bayer” Newcastle won with a total score of 6:2. In the home game, Shearer, who returned from disqualification, even fired a hat-trick. Alan recalls that moment fondly: “It’s not every day you get a hat-trick in the Champions League. This is still one of my best memories – I clearly remember everything that happened then.
Shearer enchanted in the next game – with Inter at the San Siro – he twice brought Newcastle to the lead, but the Milanese bounced back each time. The match ended in a fighting draw – 2:2. “We played at the away stadium, but when we came out of the tunnel, a huge black and white wall caught my eye – the stands were full of our fans. I celebrated the second goal with them – it was wow, ”Alan shared.
Newcastle had a chance of reaching the quarter-finals of the Champions League – for this they had to beat Barca at St James’ Park and hope that Inter did not hack Bayer. Neither of these happened.
In the same season, Newcastle finished third in the Premier League, once again reaching the Champions League. According to Shearer, the defeat against Partizan severely crippled the team, but the Magpies still reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup, where they lost to Marseille. The outcome of the confrontation was decided by Didier Drogba’s double.
In the fall, Newcastle will again try to make some noise in the Champions League. Will it work?
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