A staunch defensive performance saw Bobby’s boy end tonight’s UEFA cup semi-final first leg home tie with a respectable 0-0 draw against their French counterparts Olympic Marseille. The pre-match hype was all about the devastating injury crisis at St. James Park with first team regulars Craig Bellamy, Kieron Dyer, Lee Bowyer and Jermain Jenas all rules out, and a doubt over the fitness of second choice striker Shola Ameobi. Damage limitation became Bobby’s main prerogative, and attempting to avoid Marseille from scoring that all-important away goal was the aim of tonight’s game.
But Newcastle find it hard not to play flowing, attacking football and with Shearer holding the ball up in impeccable style and the gangly limbs of Ameobi calling for it Newcastle took only a few minutes before Fabian Barthez, in goal for the visitors, was called into action.
Just as against PSV Eindhoven last week the composure of Jonathon Woodgate in the defense appeared to instil a sensible calm throughout the team and provide a stable platform upon which to mount wave after wave of campaigning down the right hand flank. Young Darren Ambrose, still only 20 years of age, performed like a man much older and more experienced and seemed to be able to skip past his marker at will, ably assisted by Aaron Hughes at right back.
Lauren Robert, blessed with the most sublime of god given talent yet cursed with inconsistency and arrogance over his skill, decided this wasn’t the game for him and when challenged gave the ball away not once, but twice. Batlles having all the time in the world to ping a pinpoint cross to Droghba who smashed a volley past Shay given in the Newcastle goal, but not past the final coat of paint on the goal post.
Tonight’s final score from St. James’ Park: Newcastle 0 – 0 Olympic Marseille.
One side note. During Tuesday evening’s game between Chelsea vs. Monaco the commentator, and old soccer manager named Ron Atkinson, still inadvertently had is microphone switched on when live on air he called Marcel Desailly, the Chelsea captain, a ‘fucking lazy fucking n!gger’. Ron has since been sacked from his position as co-commentator, yet insists he is ‘not a racist’