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Throwback Thursday: Remembering Newcastle's last European adventure

Posted on May 19, 2023

As we approach the final week of the Premier League season, third-placed Newcastle have Champions League football firmly in their sights with three games left to play at the time of writing.

With the Magpies guaranteed a return to European football next season in some capacity, for Throwback Thursday this week, we decided to look at their last jaunt in Europe back in the Europa League campaign of 2012/13.

This was to be Newcastle’s first European tournament since 2006/07, and they had qualified after finishing fifth in the previous Premier League season in what was an incredible campaign under the leadership of Alan Pardew.

A 2-1 aggregate win in a playoff match over Atromitos just saw the Magpies progress to the group stages of the Europa League, before they finished second in a group containing Bordeaux, Maritimo and Club Brugge, ending with nine points and missing out on top spot on the final gameweek, losing to the eventual group winners Bordeaux away from home.

Nevertheless, they were through to the knockout stage.

The Round of 32 saw them face Metalist Kharkiv, before they took on Anzhi Makhachkala in the last-16. In both instances it came down to a 1-0 aggregate win to settle the two ties, with Newcastle leaving it to the second leg in both ties to claim that all important winner.

In the quarter-finals, they were faced with an exceedingly difficult task in Portuguese powerhouses, Benfica. The runners-up in Liga Portugal the previous season had dropped into the Europa League after finishing third in a Champions League group containing Barcelona, Celtic and Spartak Moscow. They came into this tie unbeaten in domestic duties and in top form having knocked out Bayer Leverkusen and Bordeaux in the previous rounds of the Europa League.

It was going to be far from easy for the Premier League side to progress, especially as their league form was poor with the club in the midst of a relegation fight.

However, striker Papiss Cisse gave the Magpies the dream start, firing his side ahead after only 12 minutes thanks to a brilliantly timed cross from Moussa Sissoko, as the Newcastle frontman slotted home to net the all-important away goal.

The lead though, wasn’t to last, as less than 15 minutes later it was 1-1 through Rodrigo. Had the game ended there, there would have been real optimism that Newcastle could book their place in the next, especially with the second leg in front of their home fans at St James’ Park. However, two second-half goals in the 65th and 71st minute from Lima and Oscar Cardozo, respectively, meant they had a mountain to climb in the second leg.

It had been a dominant win for the Portuguese outfit in truth, recording 23 shots to Newcastle’s seven, and they would be full of confidence of finishing the job a week later.

The second leg was more of an even affair and though Benfica started the first-half brighter, Newcastle slowly started to make a way into the game and were rewarded when Cisse, scoring his fourth Europa League goal of the campaign, capitalised on an error from Nemanja Matic to bring the aggregate score to 3-2 in the 71st minute.

The hope of completing the comeback was ended in stoppage time with the Magpies failing to score a second on the night and Sissoko making an error that led to Eduardo Salvio bagging late on, which confirmed Benfica's place in the semi-finals in a 4-2 aggregate win, which saw the Premier League outfit exit the competition.

Benfica went on to reach the final, eventually losing 2-1 to Chelsea thanks to a second-half stoppage time winner from Branislav Ivanovic. For Newcastle they managed to confirm their status in England’s top tier for another season in their penultimate match as they beat QPR 2-1.

Fast foward to the present day and as Eddie Howe’s side look to clinch a Champions League spot, fans must believe with their recent revival and current quality among the current crop of players, which will only improve this summer, that they can enjoy a similar run in Europe next season.