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Boss Still Confident

NUFC Logo Newcastle United FC

He knows his side must be "intelligent" against Benfica, but Alan Pardew believes his side can claw their way back into quarter-final tie

By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter

Alan Pardew has called for his Newcastle United side to show intelligence against Benfica in their Europa League quarter-final second leg - but insists he'd still fancy his team to go through even if Thursday's game is goalless with ten minutes to go.

The Magpies trail 3-1 from the first leg at the Estadio da Luz but that scoreline was harsh as they hit the woodwork twice at vital times. However, Papiss Cisse's away goal means a 2-0 victory at St. James' Park would be enough to take United through.

But while Newcastle need at least two goals, they must also not concede otherwise their task will become even more difficult and Pardew therefore knows his players have to perform a skilled balancing act against the Portuguese giants.

"I think we've done enough in the first leg to say that we've got a big shout in this game if we're intelligent about how we approach it," he said.

"Even if we need two goals with 20 minutes to go, I think we can do it.

"They have real threat on the counter-attack and the game could get away from us, it could easily get away from us, so we've got to be very much on our guard and approach it in the right manner, give ourselves a chance and try and get us to the end of the game in a position where we can get it back.

"I'd still feel confident two goals down with ten minutes to go the way that we are, the potential that we have in the group and the way I can affect it off the bench.

"And I think our fans, and the way we're finishing games, could be a problem for Benfica.

"As Borussia Dortmund proved on Tuesday night, the crowd can influence proceedings. For us, Sunday was a special day for us in terms of us with the fans because we were all nervous, we were all apprehensive about that fixture and we knew with the week we had in front of us it was important to win.

"So to win in the last minute was special and our fans were a big, big part of that with the noise and the atmosphere they generated."

Cisse scored the 93rd minute winner against Fulham last weekend and has also struck winning goals in last gasp fashion against Stoke City and, in the last round of the Europa League, Anzhi Makhachkala.

And Pardew smiled: "I keep telling Papiss to try and score before the 90th minute but he's a special goalscorer and was a big threat to Benfica, I thought, in the first leg.

"And he will be on Thursday too."