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Pardew delighted with European progress
ALAN Pardew expressed satisfaction with Newcastle's European progress after Gabriel Obertan's second-half strike left his side on the verge of qualifying for the knock-out stage of the Europa League.
Obertan's 48th-minute strike secured a 1-0 win over Club Brugge that extended the Magpies' unbeaten home run in the UEFA Cup and Europa League to 24 matches.
With Maritimo and Bordeaux drawing in Portugal, Newcastle are three points clear at the top of Group D. They will qualify for the last 32 with two games remaining if they win in Brugge in two weeks time and Maritimo fail to beat Bordeaux in France.
They are still to concede a goal in European competition this season, with last night's success following hot on the heels of this month's 3-0 victory over Bordeaux.
“We've got ourselves into a very good position,” said Pardew, who will now turn his attention to Sunday's Premier League home game with West Brom. “If you had offered me seven points from three matches at the start of the group, I would have taken it.
“We knew we had a chance of making it seven points with a win, and that really bodes well. We've still got Maritimo to play at home, and they did us a bit of a favour tonight as well.
“We've got two difficult away games though (against Brugges and Bordeaux) and we're probably going to have to get something in one of those games. Brugge showed enough here to suggest it's not going to be easy over there.”
Pardew made nine changes to the side that drew with Sunderland on Sunday, but Newcastle's fringe players stepped up to the plate in impressive fashion.
Obertan's winner was an emphatic strike, while full-back Shane Ferguson caused a series of problems down the left-hand side.
Sammy Ameobi was probably the pick of Newcastle's youngsters, setting up Obertan's winner with a sublime piece of skill that saw him flick the ball over Jesper Jorgensen's head before releasing the winger with a sumptuous through ball.
“This young group of players is pushing hard,” said Pardew. “Gael (Bigirimana) is showing that he is going to be a very good player for us, and I thought both Ferguson and Sammy Ameobi had great games. Obertan too – that's the second European game in a row where we owe a big debt to him.
“Ferguson has got one of those left feet that you get now and again. He could peel oranges with that left foot. He put three fantastic balls in the box and I like the way he plays the game. He's progressive and wants to constantly attack.
“Sammy has fantastic technical ability – if he can translate that into his general awareness he's going to be a great player.
“We've got really strong competition in the group now and that's excellent. When you are a senior player and you see a great young player pushing, it boosts you and is great for spirit.”
Brugge's best chance came midway through the second half when striker Carlos Bacca headed over from close range, and while Newcastle dominated in terms of territory and possession, they were unable to establish a position of complete comfort.
“It was nice to see us squeeze through, and it was probably a night where we just did enough,” conceded Pardew. “But we've approached this competition in the right manner right the way through and we've got our reward for that.
“We tried to attack the game, but Brugge were a good side. I thought they had two or three outstanding players and it's a big win for us.”