Kiev chicken out of fight and get thorough roasting
So Newcastle's debut appearance in the Champions League ended the way it began - in triumph and jubilation. This may have been pleasing symmetry, but no one should forget what went on in between the victory over Barcelona in September and the win last night. Judging by the hordes leaving the ground before the final whistle, few have.
None the less, defeating the group winners Dinamo Kiev - and doing it in comfort - is hardly a result to be sniffed at. Newcastle, through well-taken, first-half goals from John Barnes and Stuart Pearce, did just that and thus inflicted a first loss upon Kiev.
The game itself, though, never came near to matching the excitement of that Barcelona night. With Newcastle's interest in the competition effectively ended by their 1-0 defeat away to PSV Eindhoven, and Kiev already assured of their place in the quarterfinals, only prestige and prize money were at stake.
For the Ukrainians, though, this was enough incentive for them to field their full-strength team, five of whom were on yellow cards, while Newcastle did much the same with their available fit players.
This meant another start for Faustino Asprilla following his abortive 62-minute return last Saturday, and the Colombian immediately gave Newcastle the dimension only his presence can supply. But it was the electric Kiev inside forward Sergei Rebrov who made the first big impression. Ghosting away from Alessandro Pistone in the fifth minute, Rebrov put a quickly-taken header inches over the crossbar.
That, however, proved to be Kiev's best moment of a lethargic first half-hour. Refusing to become involved in any physical combat, Dinamo handed the midfield to Robert Lee and David Batty, a situation the latter exploited to full effect in creating the opening goal.
Cutting through a series of tackles, Batty delivered a smart square ball to Barnes just inside the Kiev area. At first shaping to shoot with his left, Barnes then switched to his right and drilled the ball low into Alexander Shovkovski's bottom right-hand corner.
Encouraged by that, Lee almost made it two a couple of minutes later - only to miss the ball completely when well placed. Nevertheless, Newcastle grabbed a second soon after. What a strike it was, too. Pearce recording his first for Newcastle with a trademark 25-yard curling bullet following a short free-kick from Lee.
When Barnes then almost made it three from a Gillespie centre in the 35th minute, Kiev suddenly decided that embarrassment was a possibility and entered the fray testing Shaka Hislop's agility twice in the space of a minute. At last we were beginning to see glimpses of the real Kiev, but sadly in a stale opening to the second half, it appeared that Kiev had resorted to going through the motions once again. It made for dull fare indeed.
Newcastle United: Hislop, Watson, Pistone (Hughes 45), Peacock, Pearce, Albert, Batty, Lee, Barnes, Gillespie, Asprilla (Ketsbaia 57). Subs Not Used: Given, Rush, Tomasson, Hamilton, Elliott. Booked: Gillespie, Albert. Goals: Barnes 10, Pearce 21.
Dinamo Kiev: Shovkovsky, Luzhny, Bezhenar, Dmitrulin, Kalitvintsev, Kossovsky, Shevchenko, Rebrov, Gusin, Mikhailenko (Venglinski 78), Bolosainko (Radchenko 78). Subs Not Used: Kernozenko, Kardash, Belkevitch. Booked: Bezhenar.
Referee: H Krug (Germany).