No favourites in return leg claims Alan Pardew after Anzhi draw

08 March 2013 06:47

Alan Pardew refused to accept Newcastle are favourites to reach the Europa League quarter-finals despite witnessing a spirited display in Moscow.

The Magpies became the first side to deny Anzhi Makhachkala a European victory on home soil this season as they fought out a 0-0 draw on the artificial pitch at a wintry Luzhniki Stadium.

He said: "I wouldn't say we are favourites because they have got good counter-attacking abilities in the team, but it's going to be a very different game at St James' Park."

Newcastle might have headed into next Thursday night's second leg with a precious away goal had Hatem Ben Arfa accept the glorious opportunity which came his way on his 26th birthday. In the event, the two sides will battle it out at St James' Park with everything to play for, and Pardew is relishing the prospect.

He added: "We really need to set it up on Sunday [against Stoke]. Sunday is something we need to put right. If we can get a win there, then I think the mood in our stadium is going to be something that's going to be very difficult for Anzhi to cope with."

Pardew was without six members of his strongest team but his confidence in the squad was rewarded with fine individual displays by goalkeeper Rob Elliot, who made two vital saves from Samuel Eto'o, and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Massadio Haidara at the back, while Ben Arfa returned from a long injury lay-off to play in an unaccustomed striking role.

Pardew said: "It's something I have thought about in the past with Hatem because if I was a central defender, he's the last person I would want to get possession in and around the box.

"He obviously isn't 100 per cent fit, but he still put a really good shift in today. He actually lasted longer than I thought. Dropping deep and Moussa [Sissoko] going in behind, I think it's a nice option, and if we lose Cisse any time between now and the end of the year, I will look at it again."

Opposite number Guus Hiddink did not attend the post-match press conference because of illness, but assistant Zeljko Petrovic said: "We played tonight a very complicated game against a team from the Premier League, and you can see that between the teams that we played before Newcastle, there's a big difference to the Premier League teams.

"We are not disappointed tonight because we played a good game, tactically a very strong game, and Newcastle actually didn't play a Premier League game, they played a European game."

Source: PA

World Cup Group G

Belgium 1 0 0 3 3
England 1 0 0 1 3
Tunisa 0 0 1 -1 0
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Last updated : 08:44