By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Club Reporter
At St. James' Park
Newcastle United 1 (Obertan 48)
Club Brugge 0
Gabriel Obertan's second half goal was enough for Newcastle United to record a 1-0 Europa League Group D home victory over Club Brugge on Thursday night.
The winger raced onto Sammy Ameobi's pass and provided a superb finish to an impressive team move, just three minutes after the restart at St. James' Park.
And it was no more than the Magpies deserved, having put in a professional performance which, on another night, could have yielded a greater scoreline.
But it wasn't all one-way traffic as the Belgians had their chances too - none better than Carlos Baccas's close range header which he somehow put over an almost-empty net.
The result leaves Newcastle top of Group D with seven points from their three fixtures to date, and yet to concede a goal.
Brugge fashioned the opening chance of the match with three minutes on the clock.
Maxime Lestienne picked up the ball on the halfway line and was afforded space down the left flank before firing in a low 30-yard shot which Steve Harper parried and then gathered at the second attempt.
Vadis Odjidja then blazed over from a similar distance as the visitors made their attacking intentions clear from the off.
Newcastle were denied what looked a good shout for a penalty in the tenth minute, as Cisse was flattened inside the box.
Sammy Ameobi had briliantly jinked inside the Brugge defence before delivering a cross towards the head of Cisse, who was knocked to the floor by full-back Bart Buysse before he could connect.
There was no defender in sight five minutes later when Cisse was picked out by a trademark inch-perfect Shane Ferguson centre.
Given a yard of room on the left, the youngster needed no second invite to wrap his wand of a boot around the ball, and Cisse connected with a thumping header, only to see Brugge keeper Bojan Jorgacevic make a brilliant point-blank save to somehow keep it out.
Ameobi was United's brightest spark and almost broke the deadlock just past the half hour mark.
Harper's long punt towards the right touchline was expertly knocked on for himself to chase by the Academy graduate, who then proceeded to cut inside, ride four challenges and drag a left-footed shot narrowly wide of the near post.
In the 38th minute Ferguson and Cisse combined once more - this time from a corner - but the Sengalese front man could only nod over the bar, having been picked out 12 yards from goal.
Cisse then spurned another good opportunity, doing brilliantly to control Cheick Tiote's angled pass and cut inside his marker in the same movement, but screwing the resulting half-volley well off target.
Brugge hit back and Lestienne fired another warning shot, drilling across the face of goal and narrowly wide, but the Magpies went straight down the other end and only a flying stop from Jorgacevic prevented Cisse breaking the deadlock right on half-time.
Sammy Ameobi picked up a loose ball deep in his own half and exchanged passes with brother Shola before flicking outrageously over his own head and driving forward down the middle of the pitch.
The youngster released Obertan wide on right, who took a touch before driving home an unstoppable finish into the corner to give the hosts a deserved lead and a perfect start to the second period.
In the 52nd minute, Harper had to be alert to keep United's advantage in check, getting down well to his left to push behind a Lior Refaelov shot after the forward had pulled the trigger from just inside the box.
Just past the hour mark Brugge should have been level and will still be wondering how they weren't long after the game finished.
It was no surprise that the move involved Lestienne, who was their most dangerous player by far, and he proved it again as he whipped in a cross right onto the head of the unmarked Bacca just six yards out.
Seemingly, all the striker had to do was connect and it was an equaliser for the visitors, but amazingly he headed down into the ground and over the bar of the gaping goal.
There was one last chance for Brugge as substitute Ivan Trickovski cut inside from the right and saw his shot - which was heading for the far top corner - deflected behind by the head of Steven Taylor.
Newcastle United (4-3-3): Steve Harper; Davide Santon, Steven Taylor (c), James Perch, Shane Ferguson (Yohan Cabaye 81); Gael Bigirimana, Cheick Tiote, Vurnon Anita (Shola Ameobi 46); Gabriel Obertan, Papiss Cisse, Sammy Ameobi (Fabricio Coloccini 73)
Club Brugge (4-3-3): Bojan Jorgacevic; Tom Hogli, Carl Hoefkens (c), Jordi, Bart Buysse; Vadis Odjidja, Jonathan Blondel (Thibaut van Acker 83), Jesper Jorgensen; Lior Refaelov (Ivan Trickovski 56), Carlos Bacca, Maxime Lestienne
Subs not used: Vladan Kujovic, Jannes Vansteenkiste, Bjorn Engels, Victor Vazquez, Bjorn Vleminckx
Referee: Martin Hansson (Sweden)