By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Club Reporter
At the Sports Direct Arena
Newcastle United 1 (Vuckic 21)
(Newcastle win 2-1 on aggregate)
Newcastle United are into the Europa League proper after Haris Vuckic's first senior goal for the Club helped them see off Atromitos in the second leg of their qualifier on Thursday night.
The Slovenian international - an early substitute for Ryan Taylor - rifled home from long range to give the Magpies an advantage they would never relinquish against their Greek opponents, as they recorded a 1-0 win on the night.
That meant a 2-1 aggregate victory and a place in the group stages of the competition.
United dominated for long spells and James Perch, Mike Williamson and Demba Ba could have all added to the scoreline, but there were also a couple of hairy moments at the other end when Chumbinho and Elini Dimoutsos briefly threatened.
But it was a case of job done for Alan Pardew's side as they successfully negotiated a tricky tie and will now await Friday's draw to find out who they will face in the next phase.
United started brightly and forced the visitors onto the backfoot for most of the opening five minutes, with James Perch going closest to breaking the deadlock.
The versatile former Nottingham Forest man - playing in the heart of the midfield on this occasion - had the ball laid back into his path by Gabriel Obertan and curled a first time shot inches wide of the far upright.
Sylvain Marveaux then stung the palms of Atromitos keeper Charles Itandje, having cut into the box from the left flank, before the Magpies were dealt a huge blow with the early replacement of Ryan Taylor.
The left-back went down in agony having won a throw-in, with television replays appearing to show that whatever damage was done occurred on landing, having hurdled a challenge.
Vuckic was introduced in Taylor's place, with Perch moving to the left-hand side of Newcastle's rearguard, and within ten minutes the Slovenian youngster had edged United in front.
Collecting Danny Simpson's throw-in, Vuckic tried his luck from 20 yards with a first-time effort, which took a slight deflection on its way past Itandje and into the far corner for his first senior goal for the Magpies.
The hosts had the bit between their teeth and Mike Williamson almost stabbed home number two from a corner, but Atromitos went straight up the other end and Chumbinho forced Tim Krul into a smart save with a low shot across the face of goal.
United were soon back on the attack, however, and Demba Ba came agonisingly close to doubling the advantage with the aid of another deflection, only for Itandje to readjust himself in the nick of time to make a fine stop.
Vuckic should have bagged his second of the match on 33 minutes when he strode past a couple of Atromitos defenders inside the box and let fly with a left-footed strike, but holding midfielder Matias Iglesias slid in to avert the danger.
With half-time approaching, Krul almost gifted the visitors an equaliser. He spilled what Denis Epstein's shot into the path of Chumbinho, with the Atromitos man going to ground under the keeper's challenge. Thankfully for Krul, referee Stephan Studer booked Chumbinho for diving and the Magpies escaped.
The second half was just 45 seconds old when Gabriel Obertan exchanged passes with Ba and raced into the box but, having toed the ball past Itandje, the winger was forced wide by Konstantinos Giannoulis and was unable to tap home.
In the 71st minute Obertan almost put the tie out of reach as he burst onto another Ba pass made his way into the area. The winger, who was excellent and a constant threat throughout, pulled the trigger but Itandje was equal to the shot, flying to his right to parry it away.
And United were nearly made to pay just a few minutes later. A shot from Iglesias was blocked by Bigirimana, but only into the path of Dimoutsos, eight yards out.
The midfielder, under pressure, had to take the chance first time but drove across the goal and inches wide of the far upright, much to the relief of the hosts.
And that was it, with Newcastle comfortable for large spells and recording their first clean sheet of the season as they progressed to the next stage of the tournament.
Newcastle United (4-2-3-1): Tim Krul; Danny Simpson, Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini (c), Ryan Taylor (Haris Vuckic 11); James Perch (James Tavernier 60), Gael Bigirimana; Gabriel Obertan, Dan Gosling, Sylvain Marveaux (Romain Amalfitano 90); Demba Ba
Atromitos (4-2-3-1): Charles Itandje; Ioannis Skondras (c), Sokratis Fytanidis, Nikolaos Lazaridis, Konstantinos Giannoulis; Matias Iglesias, Eduardo Brito (Njazi Kuqi 88); Elini Dimoutsos (Sebastiau Garcia 85), Chumbinho (Nikola Beljic 75), Denis Epstein; Tasos Karamanos
Subs not used: Velihir Radman, Stathis Tavlaridis, Evangelos Nastos, Panagiotis Ballas
Referee: Stephan Studer (Switzerland)