Martins fires Magpies through
By Lewis Rutledge
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Newcastle eased into the last 16 of the Uefa Cup with a 1-0 victory over Zulte-Waregem.
Newcastle eased into the last 16 of the Uefa Cup with a 1-0 victory over Zulte-Waregem at St James' Park.
Leading 3-1 from the first leg in Belgium, there was never any real danger of their advantage being overturned by a spirited but limited Zulte side.
But The Magpies struggled throughout and Obafemi Martins's fine finish deep into the second half was a rare moment of quality in an uninspiring encounter.
Newcastle almost took an early lead when Steven Taylor saw a header cleared off the line by Stijn Meert, before James Milner struck a powerful effort just over the crossbar from the edge of the area.
The rest of the first half was more frustrating for Newcastle though, as they struggled to carve open the Belgian side's organised defence.
Zulte almost pressed the self-destruct button after falling behind at home last week, but there was a sense of purpose about their play that suggested they would make Newcastle work for their place in the next round.
The impressive Meert released Sebastien Siani with a fine through-ball midway through the first half, but Titus Bramble raced back and slid in with a brilliant tackle just as he was preparing to shoot.
Taylor was the next to come to Newcastle's rescue with an equally important and well-timed challenge on Ludwin Vannieuwenhuyse just before the break.
The likes of Kieron Dyer and Damien Duff were unusually subdued and it was left to Bramble to provide a rare spark going forward as the second half got underway, but after bursting into the box his shot from a tight angle was comfortably held by Sammy Boussut.
An unmarked Martins then crashed a header wide from Duff's cross, but Zulte continued to threaten on the counter-attack and Wouter Van Der Driessche stung Steve Harper's palms with a fierce shot from 25 yards.
Bart Buysse was then presented with the best opportunity of the game as he darted into the six-yard area to connect with Tim Matthys's free-kick, but he sent his header well wide.
Newcastle finally managed to break through after 68 minutes as Duff bisected the Zulte defence with a fine pass and Martins coolly flicked the ball over the onrushing Bossut.
Glenn Roeder's side managed to find a little fluency in the closing stages and Milner almost added a second with a curling free-kick from 25 yards, but there was little else for the home crowd to get excited about.
Matthys battled past two defenders but was tackled by Bramble as Zulte sought a consolation, but Newcastle held on to keep their first clean sheet in 17 games and book a clash against AZ Alkmaar in the round of 16.
|Newcastle United||Team Statistics||SV Zulte Waregem|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|4||Shots on Target||1|
|4||Shots off Target||7|