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Sibierski secures the points
19 Oct 2006 - 22:54:38
Newcastle United found an unlikely hero in stand-in striker Antoine Sibierski, who struck late on to secure a vital 1-0 win against Fenerbahce.
This was the perfect result for United boss Glenn Roeder, who before the tie had demanded a win and a clean sheet in this opening group game against legendary Brazilian Zico's Turkish side.
It was never a classic, but Newcastle had the better of the chances throughout as they fought doggedly for this all-important home win.
Sibierski, given a rare start, did exactly what he did at Levadia Tallinn when he sealed the victory by bundling the ball in from close range.
The goal came after a Nolberto Solano corner was headed forward by Steven Taylor and Fener goalkeeper Rustu Recber could only parry his effort after he picked up the ball late through the crowded goalmouth. The big Frenchman did the rest.
In terms of effort it was no more than Newcastle deserved, but Roeder has injury troubles ahead of Sunday's derby clash at Middlesbrough.
Emre limped off during the second half with a back injury and keeper Steve Harper has problems with a groin strain that prevented him taking goal-kicks.
Damien Duff was forced to take over as an emergency left-back while local lads Taylor and Peter Ramage were a breath of fresh air after they were given a vote of confidence over calamitous Titus Bramble and Craig Moore.
It was not until the final 15 minutes of the first half that there was any goalmouth action, and it all came at the Turkish end.
The first effort fell to Charles N'Zogbia whose first touch from Sibierski's pass was poor and he drilled his shot into the side netting.
Obafemi Martins was caught on the back foot when James Milner robbed Edu on the byline and whipped in a cross that Onder Turaci got away.
Had that been in the Alan Shearer days, the master striker would have had ball and defender in the back of the net whereas Martins was far too easily brushed aside.
Then, right on the stroke of the interval, Taylor missed a glorious headed chance when he was left free but put Emre's flag-kick over the top.
Martins, who still looks far from the finished article, brought a magnificent save out of Recber on the hour mark. Meeting an N'Zogbia cross from the left his downward header was destined for the bottom corner until the Turkish international keeper managed to claw the ball behind.
Newcastle's next UEFA Cup game is a daunting trip to Palermo, but they travel to Sicily knowing that one more victory from their three remaining group games will almost certainly book their progress into the next stage.