Atromitos 1 Newcastle United 1: Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has warned Europa League hero Ryan Taylor he may have to be patient as he attempts to force his way into the team.
The utility man was handed a start at left-back against Atromitos in Greece last night and produced a trademark free-kick to ensure the Magpies return to Tyneside for the second leg of their play-off unbeaten and with a potentially valuable away goal.
However, Taylor could still find himself sitting on the bench at Chelsea on Saturday evening as Newcastle return to Premier League action having rested nine senior men in Athens. Pardew said: "When we trained here last night, he [Taylor] hit three or four better than the one he scored with tonight. I should think in the Premier League, there are not too many players at dead balls who have the accuracy of Ryan.
"He is desperate to play in the first team, but he has got some good performances from Saturday's game against Tottenham in front of him, so he has got to be patient. When he gets his chance, what more can he do? He played very well tonight – and hopefully there are a few more of those, please."
Taylor's sweet strike, which came a year and three days after he established himself as a Geordie hero by firing the Magpies to victory at Sunderland, dragged his side back on to level terms two minutes into first-half injury time.
He struck from 25 yards with a viciously curling free-kick after midfielder Matias Iglesias had been pulled up for a rugby tackle on Dan Gosling. But until that point, the visitors had looked distinctly second best, with German midfielder Denis Epstein having made the most of full-back James Tavernier's inexperience to fire Atromitos into a 24th-minute lead.
However, Newcastle gradually got to grips with the game, which was played out in energy-sapping heat at the Peristeri Stadium, and might have won it through substitutes Romain Amalfitano and Adam Campbell, the latter setting a club record as the youngest player to figure in a European game at the age of 17 years and 236 days.
Pardew said: "Our pre-season prep, you could argue, served us well tonight because they let us have possession for long periods of the game, and we moved the ball and made them work really hard and took the sting out of the game a little bit.
"In the second half, I was a little bit disappointed we didn't get the win – I thought there were good opportunities – but overall, I was very, very pleased with the performance."
Newcastle will head into the second leg as favourites to progress, but Pardew knows they can take nothing for granted. He said: "They [Atromitos] have shown us tonight that it's not going to be a pushover and it's not going to be a foregone conclusion, so we have got to be right and we have got to make sure that the team is strong enough. But that team I fielded tonight, I thought we got it just about right, and now we have got to get next Thursday right. If we are taking an away goal into the home leg, we would be favourites – but we are the favourites when we play at home whoever we are playing, in my opinion, so we have got to win the game."
* Motherwell manager Stuart McCall was disappointed his side failed to play to their potential against Levante as a 2-0 defeat to the Spaniards at Fir Park left them with little chance of reaching the Europa League group stages.
Motherwell had survived for almost 42 minutes but they were caught out waiting for an offside flag as Juanlu ran from deep to open the scoring.
They were cut open again in the 62nd minute when substitute Nabil El Zhar finished from 10 yards. Shaun Hutchinson was sent off for a last-man to leave Motherwell with an even bigger task in Valencia next Thursday.
Referee A Yefet (Isr).