By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Managing Editor
Alan Pardew hailed his side's resolute display as Newcastle United recorded an impressive goalless draw away at Anzhi Makhachkala on Thursday night.
Chances were few and far between in the Europa League Round of 16 first leg tie at the Luzhniki Stadium, as the Magpies did a thoroughly professional job on their big-spending and normally-formidable Russian opponents.
And having seen his troopes end Anzhi's 100 per cent home record in the European competition, Pardew was delighted.
"It was a fantastic performance because they are a really good side," the manager told nufcTV following the final whistle.
"They are unbeaten here (in the Europa League), so to get a draw and not concede is fantastic.
"We put out a technical team who were good with the ball, and I thought in the first half we really controlled the ball and gave them limited opportunities.
"In the second half they were a little bit sharper and we had to defend well.
"But overall it was a really sound performance and we will go to St. James' Park knowing we have to win.
Ben Arfa was handed a starting role as a lone front man in Moscow - his first appearance in the black and white stripes for 12 weeks following a hamstring injury.
He went desperately close to breaking the deadlock midway through the second half with a cheeky chip, and Pardew was pleased to see the French international back in action.
"Hatem isn't 100 per cent fit but I thought it was the one area in which he might cause them some problems, with one of his little runs," he continued.
"He had that great moment just before he went off where, if he was fit, you would fancy him to score that. He's getting there though and he is obviously an important player for us."