Newcastle United defeated Metalist Kharkiv 1-0 in Ukraine Thursday to advance to the Europa League Round of 16. The match was characterized by a ton of whistles, disallowing any semblance of flow, but ultimately Newcastle needed only a penalty from Shola Ameobi to close the deal. The penalty was awarded following a poor back pass from
FininhoPapa Gueye, and goalkeeper Oleksandr Goryainov, who didn't have a much to do this time around, took down Moussa Sissoko as he chased the ball.
It seems fitting that a referee's decision would be the deciding factor in what was a very contentious and controversial pair of games, but to be fair to Newcastle, they were the better side for the 70 minutes leading up to the goal. Metalist would have their say as NUFC parked the bus for the home stretch, but the entire back four played excellently, repeatedly denying easy runs into the box. Metalist were sparked mostly by Jonathan Cristaldo, but Tim Krul was equal to the task.
Newcastle will face either Anzhi Makhachkala or Hannover 96 next on March 7 & 14. They'll have to contend with Southampton in the more immediate future, and knocks to Krul and Yohan Cabaye may call their status into question. For now, the Toon are one step closer, and it feels good, man.