Newcastle face stern test at Anzh-“ oh hang on, it'™s finished

Back of the Net's John Foster gets lost in the timewarp

Newcastle United'™s Europa League campaign faces its toughest challenge yet this evening, as they prepare for their last 16 meeting with Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala, who will be hoping to -“ wait a second, apparently it'™s just finished.

Going into tonight'™s clash, Guus Hiddink'™s side are undefeated at home in the competition, and following it that apparently remains the case. Most bookmakers offer good odds on a draw, not least because it just happened, several minutes ago.

Following their battling 1-0 win at Metalist Kharkiv in the previous round, a game that now we think about it also kicked off at 5pm, Newcastle will be hoping to keep a clean sheet, a hope that looks all the more forlorn when one reflects that the game is finished and that they drew 0-0. The Magpies'™ task will be made harder by the fact that Papiss Cisse is unlikely to feature, because doing so would involve him going back in time.

Magpies manager Alan Pardew, when asked by FourFourTwo about his hopes for the first leg, gave us a funny look and went back to watching highlights of the last time these two teams met, which was approximately 20 minutes ago.

His opposite number Hiddink, when asked if he considered the first leg already won, said "œNo, of course not. You are an idiot," and stomped off looking cross.

The game will be played -“ or rather, has already been played -“ at 9pm, which is 5pm in England, it turns out. Last-minute news from the Newcastle camp is that they may give a number of players a rest, as they'™ve just spent 90 minutes playing a game of football in Russia.  


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