By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Club Reporter
At St. James' Park
Newcastle United 1 (Marveaux 23)
Maritimo 1 (Fidelis 79)
Newcastle United have qualified for the knockout stage of the Europa League following a 1-1 home draw with Maritimo on Thursday night.
Sylvain Marveaux's first Magpies goal put the hosts in front at St. James' Park, but substitute Fidelis levelled for the Maderia-based outfit with time running out.
Newcastle made the brighter start and opened the scoring midway through the first half when Marveaux showed a superb turn of pace before slotting home.
However, they failed to build on that lead and Fidelis made them pay with an excellent equaliser, finishing off a move he had started outside the box.
With Bordeaux winning at Brugge in the other Group D fixture, it means the Magpies' passage to the next phase is confirmed.
United set out their attacking intentions from the off and full-back Davide Santon almost broke his duck with less than three minutes on the clock.
The Italian international cut in off the left flank and fired a right-footed shot goalwards, which was moving in the air all the way until it was palmed to safety by Maritimo stopper Romain Salin.
The visitors hit back soon after and Tim Krul had to get down sharply to his left to deal with a long-range strike from defender Ruben Ferreira, but that was it for chances in the opening exchanges as plenty of encouraging midfield play failed to materialise into anything meaningful in the final third.
The contest needed something to spark it into life and that duly arrived in the 23rd minute when Marveaux broke the deadlock.
A superb interception and quick pass by Gael Bigirimana got the move started in the middle of the park, and when Hatem Ben Arfa fed Marveaux just inside the penalty area, the winger eased past his marker before slotting home an assured finish.
The Magpies thought they had doubled their advantage on 37 minutes, only to see the assistant referee's flag rule out Cisse's effort. A Gael Bigirimana shot was spilled by Salin right into the path of Cisse, who duly stabbed home, but had strayed just the wrong side of the Maritimo back line.
Worryingly for the hosts, however, in the build up to that disallowed goal, Ben Arfa went down clutching his leg and hobbled straight off the pitch and up the tunnel, replaced by Demba Ba.
The second half began as the first ended - a touch disjointed and with little meaningful action, although Cisse was withdrawn within five minutes of the restart, to be replaced by Romain Amalfitano.
A deflected, looping strike from Sammy Ameobi almost caught out Salin, who back-peddled well to keep it out, before at the other end, Danilo Dias stung the fingertips of Krul from around 25 yards.
The young forward stuck out a leg to divert the ball goalwards and beat the onrushing Salin, but also jabbed his effort the wrong side of the upright.
Ferreira had already shown his prowess from distance in the first half and went even closer to levelling things up for the Madeiran outfit on 73 minutes.
As Newcastle failed to clear their lines, the ball reached the left-back on the edge of the box and he struck a sweet half-volley which Krul was forced to dive full-stretch to tip behind for a corner.
And Maritimo stunned St. James' Park with 11 minutes remaining as Fidelis grabbed a superb equaliser.
Having played a one-two on the edge of the area, the substitute drove into the box, skipped past Taylor's challenge and planted the ball through the legs of Krul from a tight angle.
And the front man almost pulled off a shock result as he sent a far post volley inches wide inside stoppage time.
It was far from an ideal result or performance from the Magpies, but crucially, they are through to the knockout stage and their Europa League dream lives on.
Newcastle United (4-2-3-1): Tim Krul; Danny Simpson, Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini (c), Davide Santon; Gael Bigirimana, Vurnon Anita; Sammy Ameobi (Mehdi Abeid 76), Hatem Ben Arfa (Demba Ba 40), Sylvain Marveaux; Papiss Cisse (Romain Amalfitano 50)
Maritimo (4-3-3): Romain Salin; Joao Diogo, Valentin Roberge, Marcio Rosario, Ruben Ferreira; Joao Luiz, Rafael Miranda (c), David Simao (Ruben Brigido 73); Danilo Dias, Adilson (Fidelis 59), Sami
Subs not used: Ricardo, Luis Olim, Briguel, Rodrigo Antonio, Joao Guilherme
Referee: Danny Makkelie (Holland)
Bookings: Newcastle - none; Maritimo - none