Sports Direct Arena
Europa League Qualifying
By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter
Newcastle United 1 (Vuckic 21)
(Newcastle win 2-1 on aggregate)
SECOND HALF UPDATES
90+3mins: It's all over and Newcastle are through to the group stages of the Europa League, but they were made to sweat by the men from Athens. Haris Vuckic's first-half goal proved the difference and United are in the hat for the draw on Friday. Incidentally, the draw for the third round of the Capital One Cup has just been made and the Magpies are away to Manchester United. But attention now turns to Sunday's league game at home to Aston Villa - get your tickets here.
90+1mins: Denis Epstein, who scored in the first leg, almost becomes a Greek god here as he sends a shot flashing inches over the bar. Pardew responds with a final change of the evening, with Romain Amalfitano on for his home debut in place of Sylvain Marveaux.
90mins: There are three minutes of stoppage time between Newcastle and a place in the Europa League group stages.
88mins: A final throw of the dice for Atromitos - Brito is off with Njazi Kuqi on in his place.
86mins: A second Atromitos player is booked for diving. After Da Silva was yellow carded in the first half, substitute Beljic takes a theatrical tumble with Coloccini in close attendance and again, referee Studer is wise to it.
85mins: After Marveaux had shot well over for Newcastle, Atromitos make a second change with Sebastiau Garcia replacing Dimoutsos, who had that huge chance to change the course of this match and the tie just a few minutes ago.
79mins: The Greeks are getting closer. Iglesias hits a shot from 22 yards which Bigirimana blocks, but it falls kindly for Dimoutsos eight yards from goal and virtually unmarked. He looks certain to draw his team level but chokes, dragging his effort across goal.
77mins: Tasos Karamanos siezes upon a loose pass from Gosling and shoots from 20 yards - fortunately for United, it's off target but that could have been costly, with Alan Pardew desperate to avoid extra-time ahead of Sunday's match against Aston Villa.
76mins: Fabricio Coloccini becomes the second player booked - and the first for Newcastle - for a foul on Elini Dimoutsos just inside the United half.
75mins: Da Silva has been the visitors' biggest threat tonight but he's off now, with Nikola Beljic on in his place as the Greek side go in search of an equaliser.
71mins: Pure pace from Obertan almost provides that killer second goal as Ba slides the ball through for him to burst onto and go one-on-one with Itandje. There's little wrong with the Frenchman's shot from inside the box, as he goes across the keeper, but he is thwarted by another good save. Unlucky.
67mins: Vuckic sends a 20-yard effort wide and it would have been an assist for Alan Pardew had it gone in. The Magpies manager, looking immaculate in a smart suit, wowed the fans with a neat touch as the ball went out for a throw and within seconds play was with Vuckic, who chose to shoot instead of teeing up Ba but saw his attempt fly off target.
66mins: After Tavernier was fouled on the left-hand touchline, 40 yards from goal, Bigirimana whipped in a great free-kick and Coloccini met it with a looping header which dropped just over the bar. The home side continue to look the better side but with such a slender advantage, their passage into the group stages of the Europa League is still far from certain.
60mins: James Tavernier is on in place of James Perch, who appeared to have picked up a shoulder injury, in Newcastle's second enforced change of the night. It's the young defender's first competitive appearance at the Sports Direct Arena - his previous three starts have all been away from home - and he slots in at left-back.
54mins: A bit of light relief as a male streaker runs onto the pitch for a few seconds, before sprinting back to where he came from. It's certainly a cold night and that was evident as the pitch invader let it all hang out. He certainly wasn't wearing the new third/European kit - make sure you are by clicking here.
52mins: Newcastle break quickly after Perch dispossesed Da Silva on the edge of the United area, and after Danny Simpson fed Marveaux, who in turn slid in Ba, the striker lets fly from 25 yards but his effort is straight at Itandje. Then as play goes from end to end again, Da Silva puts the ball into the net with a neat finish but the flag is up for offside and the celebrations of the small band of away fans are cut short.
47mins: Bigirimana launches the ball upfield and Obertan gets up high to flick it on for Ba. In turn, the striker pokes the ball through a gap for Obertan to run onto and the Frenchman is just forced wide by Itandje and a defender, with the ball going out for a goal kick. It's a good start to the second half from Obertan, though, after an excellent showing in the first period.
46mins: Atromitos get the second half underway with no changes for either side. Newcastle are attacking towards the Gallowgate end in this half and the attendance has been given as 29,242. Meanwhile, tickets are still on sale for Sunday's Barclays Premier League clash with Aston Villa - get them here.
FIRST HALF UPDATES
45+1mins: United deservedly lead at half-time in what has been a decent game, but the tie is still delicately poised. One goal for the Greeks and extra time would be required so a second Newcastle goal would be welcomed by the vast majority of those watching tonight.
45mins: There will be one minute of stoppage time at the end of the first half and, if Da Silva wasn't already feeling silly after his dive, he will be now after sending a free-kick from a dangerous position high into the Gallowgate seating.
43mins: The first booking of the night goes to Marinaldo da Silva for an embarassing dive to try to win his side a penalty. Denis Epstein - who opened the scoring for the Greeks in the first leg - hit a good shot from 22 yards and Krul spilled it straight to the feet of the Brazilian. He looked favourite to slot home the rebound but Krul was up quickly and so the striker elected to throw himself to the floor instead. Referee Studer was wise to it and showed the yellow card.
38mins: Yohan Cabaye, Romain Amalfitano and Papiss Cisse are given a round of applause as they jog towards the Gallowgate fans to warm up. And there's almost an even bigger cheer as a corner is half-cleared as far as Obertan, whose shot is deflected behind - the French winger deserves a goal for his showing so far tonight and it nearly came then.
32mins: Obertan is again the dangerman down the right as he shows great pace and strength to reach Ba's crossfield ball as Konstantinos Giannoulis slides in and then plenty of awareness to cut the ball back for Vuckic, who takes a touch and gets in a shot which was goalbound but for a great last-ditch block by Matias Iglesias.
27mins: Itandje makes a fine stop to keep his side in the tie. Demba Ba got a low shot away and it seemed to take a deflection to carry it towards the bottom left-hand corner, but the ex-Liverpool keeper somehow got down to push it away. As Marveaux recovers the ball and crosses it in, Vuckic brings it down in the box but sees the ball stolen off his toe just before he could pull the trigger and get his name on the scoresheet for a second time.
25mins: Chances at both ends as first, from Marveaux's corner, Mike Williamson steals in at the far post and stabs just wide as he too went in search of his debut strike for the club. Then in front of the Gallowgate, Da Silva races onto a pass and forces Krul into a good parry, with the Dutchman bravely springing to his feet and doing just enough to get to the loose ball ahead of an onrushing grey shirt.
21mins - NEWCASTLE GOAL (1-0): Haris Vuckic has been on for less than ten minutes and he's made an impact already with his first competitive goal for the club. The Slovenian starlet, making his first appearance of the campaign, lets fly from 20 yards and sees his effort take a slight deflection to send it into the net, although it may well have gone in even without the touch from the defender. The Magpies lead and that'll settle a few nerves for Alan Pardew's men. To get Haris Vuckic's name on the back of the new third/European kit, click here.
16mins: After more direct play from Obertan wins a corner, Marveaux whips it in low and Ba and Gosling both come within a whisker of forcing it home from close range. But referee Stephan Studer spots an infringement and awards a free-kick to Atromitos, so it wouldn't have counted anyway.
11mins: Haris Vuckic comes on for Taylor, who is given a loud ovation from the home supporters as he makes his way down the tunnel with the help of Messrs Henderson and Catterson. Vuckic has himself just returned from a minor injury and will be determined to make the most of the chance that has now been presented to him. Perch moves to left-back, where Taylor had been playing, with Vuckic moving into an attacking midfield role and Dan Gosling asked to drop deeper alongside Gael Bigirimana.
8mins: There's real concern here for Ryan Taylor, who landed very awkwardly on his ankle by the left touchline and looks to be in considerable pain. As he is treated by physio David Henderson and doctor Paul Catterson, Sylvain Marveaux jinks into the box and sees a stinging drive diverted over by the Atromitos keeper. Taylor is eventually able to stagger to his feet with the support of the medical staff, but his evening is over and let's hope that isn't a long-term problem for the player whose free-kick in the first leg could still prove to be so important in this tie.
5mins: At the other end, James Perch almost breaks his Newcastle duck - and what a goal that would have been. Gabriel Obertan, who has made a lively start on the right, cut the ball back to the man from Mansfield, playing in a defensive midfield role, and his first-time effort from the edge of the area curled agonisingly wide of the far post with Charles Itandje at full stretch.
4mins: Marnialdo da Silva has the first shot of the game, although it's barely worthy of the description as he tries his luck from 40 yards having seemingly spotted Tim Krul off his line but can only send his effort rolling along the ground straight at the Magpies keeper.
1min: After a hearty minute's applause to remember Freddie Fletcher, who passed away this week, and in front of a pretty healthy crowd underneath the Thursday night lights at the Sports Direct Arena, the game is underway to mark the return of European football to Tyneside after an absence of more than five years. The Magpies are wearing their brand new third/European kit, which went on sale this morning and is available here, while the Greek side are in all grey. It's a little chilly - a far cry from the temperature in Athens for the first leg - as Dan Gosling and Demba Ba take the kick-off with United attacking towards the Leazes end for the first 45 minutes.
Newcastle United (4-2-3-1): Tim Krul; Danny Simpson, Fabricio Coloccini, Mike Williamson, Ryan Taylor (Haris Vuckic 11); James Perch (James Tavernier 60), Gael Bigirimana; Sylvain Marveaux (Romain Amalfitano 90), Dan Gosling, Gabriel Obertan; 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
Substitutes: Velihir Radman, Stathis Tavlaridis, Evangelos Nastos, Panagiotis Ballas
Referee: Stephan Studer