NEWCASTLE United will head to Ukraine next week as slight underdogs to reach the last 16 of the Europa League after last night’s goalless draw against Metalist Kharkiv.
But their chances would have been vastly improved had Papiss Cissé not had two goals controversially judged offside.
The striker, desperate to find some goalscoring form, had the ball in the net in the first half, but a late flag was given against him when he had been onside.
Then late in the second half he looked to be level with his marker before knocking the ball home from close range.
As Cissé and his team-mates celebrated in front of the Gallowgate End, they were stunned to discover that a linesman’s call had denied them yet again.
And Cissé’s frustrating night ended with Metalist keeper Olexandr Goryainov producing a stunning injury-time save.
Newcastle defender Steven Taylor said: “We are gutted. We scored two goals that should have been allowed. I thought it was one of our best performances in a while. We did everything the gaffer asked.
“As for the second leg, I think we showed there are goals in our team. We played with a lot of confidence in the second half and I’m sure we can score over there.”
Yohan Cabaye was similarly confident about the task that face Newcastle next week, adding: “The most important thing is that we didn’t concede. They are a good team, but I think we can go through.”