Newcastle young guns fail to spark
Bordeaux 2 Newcastle Utd 0:Cheick Diabate ensured Newcastle will have to take their chances in the draw for the knockout stages as Bordeaux finished top of Group D.
The Mali international striker headed home Fahid Ben Khalfallah’s 29th-minute cross and then slid a 72nd-minute shot through goalkeeper Rob Elliot’s legs to condemn Newcastle to a first European defeat of the season and avenge a 3-0 defeat at St James’ Park in October.
It was little more than the French side deserved as despite manager Francis Gillot making the same number of changes as Alan Pardew, they enjoyed the better of the game apart from a brief flurry at the start of the second half.
But for Elliot, who made important first-half saves from Henri Saivet, Ben Khalfallah – who passed up a glorious opportunity at the death – and former Sunderland striker David Bellion, they could have won even more handsomely in front of a crowd of 19,983 at the Stade Chaban-Delmas.
Newcastle, whose arrival in France was delayed by almost four hours because of snow on Tyneside, needed a victory to snatch top spot back from Bordeaux, but they rarely looked like securing it as few of the youngsters handed a chance to shine managed to do so.
With the two sides having already qualified for the knockout stages and both managers admitting they were not sure how much an advantage finishing top of the group would be, it was no surprise when they made wholesale changes.
Only Mike Williamson and Sylvain Marveaux survived from the 3-0 league win over Wigan on Monday evening, and that meant starts for James Tavernier, Shane Ferguson, Gael Bigirimana, Mehdi Abeid, Sammy Ameobi and, for the first time since April 2010, striker Nile Ranger.