Europe? It's been emotional for Newcastle United

By Lee Ryder on Apr 12, 13 12:24 AM

Newcastle United fans can be proud of themselves and their team after a European campaign that has put them back on the football map this season.

They may not have reached the pinnacle of the Europa League itself.

But they have bolstered their European history with a nine game haul and a nine month run in Continental competition to take their overall tally to 134 games - a record that supporters of most clubs would love to have.

You might argue that being in Europe has come at a cost when you look at the Premier League table.

But if it means that Newcastle now know the circuit and now know exactly what it takes to compete both domestically and abroad, then it hopefully it has been worth it.

The fact that supporters were posting their European highlights via social networking sites to mark United's exit against Benfica suggests that many have enjoyed the ride.

There's been ups and downs along the way but from Athens to Madeira from Brugges to Bordeaux and from Kharkiv to Moscow before last week's visit to Lisbon, it has been a pleasure to see so many Geordies enjoying their Euro jaunts.

Once again Geordie fans have behaved themselves throughout and been a credit to their club.

In the end it was class that told against Benfica.

You could argue that United didn't get much luck in either leg against the Lisbon giants.

Posts were struck at the Stadium of Light by Papiss Cisse in moments that would have changed the complexion of the tie.

Alan Pardew had indicated he'd be happy to get to 70 minutes at 0-0 ahead of the second leg.

And when his side went ahead a minute after to cut the gap to just a goal, it looked like it was going to plan.

Only a lack of sharpness and a lack of luck in front of goal in the remaining moments after Cisse's strike prevented the roof coming off and Newcastle finishing what would have been a job well done.

Reality kicked in when Salvio equalised.

And that was that, after almost 18,000 miles of travelling, 10 goals, some great moments and some great performances - it was all over bar the shouting.

It was a typically crushing end in the life of a Newcastle fan.

The highs - like last season's top five finish - are high.

The lows, always seem gut wrenching, not least after coming so close to flooring Benfica.

That seemed to be the case at 1-0 on the night and Ben Arfa running at Benfica for fun.

To sum up the quality of Newcastle fans, Benfica's equaliser wasn't met by groans or even people leaving the stadium.

Instead it was spontaneous applause around St James' Park as they showed their appreciation for a side that had probably reached their limit.

By the end all that was left to say was, here's to game 135.


Lee Ryder

Lee Ryder - Proudly born and bred on Tyneside, the Chronicle's chief sports writer has followed the fortunes of the club over the last three decades as a Toon fan and football writer.

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