Alan Pardew

By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter

His side have not conceded in more than six hours of European football, but Alan Pardew feels attack is the best form of defence for Thursday's Europa League quarter-final first leg at the Estadio da Luz.

Benfica have dropped just four points all season at home in their domestic league, winning ten of their 12 matches, scoring 36 goals and conceding just seven as they look odds on to lift the title, while they have also won both of their home games in the Europa League after exiting the Champions League.

Pardew, though knows his side can't afford to play for a draw after seeing them punished for a 'lack of ambition' at Barclays Premier League champions Manchester City on Saturday and admits an away goal could prove crucial in the tie.

"I think at St. James', we can beat anybody," he insisted. "So we have no doubt about that game that we can beat Benfica.

"But this is the decider in terms of how difficult that's going to be and we've got to put in a performance where we can take something back to St. James' to give us a chance because it's going to be very difficult to beat Benfica - full stop, in both ties - but we certainly need to give ourselves a chance at St. James' Park.

"Their attacking options are very good and that's probably their strength. They have a lot of flair in the side, the two full-backs are very progressive, and it's going to be difficult to  contain them if we come here just to defend.

"We lacked a little bit of ambition at Manchester City and we kept losing possession. Possession's going to be very, very important tomorrow. Both teams are good in possession and therefore that's probably going to be a key element."

Newcastle reached the last eight with a 0-0 home draw against Metalist Kharkiv followed by a 1-0 win, then recorded a goalless draw away to Anzhi Makhachkala before progressing with the last kick of the tie when Papiss Cisse headed home.

And Pardew said: "I thought we needed to score in Russia against a team every bit as good as Benfica, but we managed to get a 0-0 and still go through.

"I would prefer to score tomorrow, if I'm honest, but we're going to need to defend very well against this team."

Tickets are on sale for the crucial home leg against Benfica - click here to buy