James Perch

By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter

James Perch admitted that Newcastle's 3-0 Europa League victory against Bordeaux has changed the compexion of Group D - but insisted the Magpies still have plenty of hard work ahead to qualify for the next round of the competition.

After the first round of games, which saw the French side thrash Club Brugge 4-0 and Newcastle and Maritimo draw 0-0, it was Thursday night's visitors to the Sports Direct Arena who were in pole position.

But after Alan Pardew's side put Les Girondins to the sword thanks to goals from Shola Ameobi and Papiss Cisse plus a Henrique own goal, and Brugge beat Maritimo 2-0, it was United who climbed to the top of the table.

And Perch, who partnered Mike Williamson at centre-half and helped Newcastle keep their third successive clean sheet in Europe this term following on from the stalemate in Madeira and the fourth qualifying round win over Atromitos, agreed that the table now has a very different look about it.

"I think it does, because all of a sudden we're top of the league and we've just beaten one of the strongest teams in the group," he told nufc.co.uk.

"And we did it comfortably as well, with a bit to spare, and that's credit to the lads because we all put in a good shift."

Against Maritimo, Pardew fielded several fringe players but on Thursday night the likes of Yohan Cabaye, Papiss Cisse, Cheick Tiote, Vurnon Anita and Perch all started.

It was something of a statement of intent from the Magpies manager in spite of Sunday's big Barclays Premier League game against Manchester United.

And Perch explained: "In the home games you always look to get three points and I think he thought three points were up for grabs there so he put one of the strongest teams out that he could. We were missing a couple of players but it was strong enough to get three points and we performed brilliantly, I thought.

"They didn't have too many chances, if any, and we played really well. We took our chances and I think we fully deserved it.

"We targetted Bordeaux for three points and now we look forward to Brugge and we'll target them for three points and hopefully get them."

But despite their strong start to the group, Perch knows that one bad result could see them facing a real battle to progress in the tournament.

And the former Nottingham Forest man - who has waited patiently throughout his career for the chance to play in Europe - promised that nobody at United would get carried away.

"Definitely not," he said. "Even though we've beaten Bordeaux, we've got to go to their place which is going to be a tough ask.

"We've got a couple more away games so it's going to be hard and we're not taking anything for granted. We're just taking each game as it comes."

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