Alan Pardew selected a strong squad for Newcastle's first-leg tie against Metalist Kharkiv. It has yet to pay dividends.
The atmosphere was electric as the sides took the pitch, but the quality of play hasn't quite lived up to the buildup that the fans in the stadium provided before the match. That isn't to say that the teams haven't had chances as both have, but the quality in the final third for both sides has been lacking just a bit.
It was a rather frustrating half for Alan Pardew's men as the vision and runs were there to take advantage of the Metalist defense (with Cisse being the notable exception on a couple of offside calls), but the execution was just slightly off repeatedly. Gabriel Obertan has had probably his best match since the scorcher he had against Manchester United last season and he had a good chance flash just wide of the Metalist goal fairly early on.
The ball would end up in the Metalist net off of a nice bit of play from Moussa Sissoko and Papiss Cisse, but one or the other (it seemed like the call was on Sissoko, but the linesman's behavior was quite odd...) was adjudged to be offside in the buildup, so the goal was disallowed. Neither player was offside, but there you go.
The next big chance of the match would fall to Metalist as a nicely crossed ball completely baffled Fabricio Coloccini and found Cleiton Xavier who put a powerful header on frame that Tim Krul was able to parry past the post. Krul would again make a decent save from the ensuing corner kick as Metalist played it low to the near post for a nifty flick at goal that the Netherlands number 1 had covered easily.
Alan Pardew will surely be the more disappointed of the two managers to this point as the attacking quality has been not of the standard that it needs to be... Metalist on the other hand will be pleased to have kept it at 0-0 and will be hoping to keep it that way (or potentially poach a goal) as an away side earning 0-0 in the first leg becomes 67% favorite to win the tie.
It's still out there for Newcastle United - the tactics are right if the execution isn't just quite... but it's going to be uphill to get where we need to go from here.