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Vurnon Anita earns high praise of Alan Pardew

ALAN Pardew hailed a towering performance from £6million signing Vurnon Anita as his Newcastle United side moved to within touching distance of the Europa League’s last 32.

Vurnon Anita of Newcastle United

ALAN Pardew hailed a towering performance from £6million signing Vurnon Anita as his Newcastle United side moved to within touching distance of the Europa League’s last 32.

Delighted Pardew felt that a crop of his fringe men made their points at the Jan Breydelstadion, singling out Sammy Ameobi and Sylvain Marveaux for particular praise as Newcastle battled back from two goals down in a memorable Europa League encounter in the heart of Flanders.

Marveaux looked bereft of confidence in the early stages of a testing night in Bruges but improved vastly in the second half to prompt Pardew to predict a big future for the former Rennes man.

But it was the performance of his Holland international – who Pardew praised as a “class act” – that warmed Pardew’s cockles as he headed back to the North East last night.

“I thought everyone played well tonight, I really did. Anita had his best game for us,” he said.

“I don’t care how much money you have cost or what club you have been at before, you need to play well in the new shirt and really, that’s his first really good game where he looked like a class act.

“He got a great goal, he was good all night, so that was a real bonus tonight and it will give him confidence going forward. I thought that Sylvain, who had a difficult game at Everton, came back and looked bright tonight, he looked sharp. When we have got no Cabaye, we need Sylvain because he gives us an intelligent pass, and I thought he did that tonight.

“There were a lot of good things that came out of the game.”

United made history by fielding the first pair of brothers in a major competition for some 60 years, and Sammy and Shola Ameobi justified Pardew’s faith in them.

They combined for a slick leveller just before half-time and Sammy celebrated his England Under-21 recall with a display brimming with promise and attacking brio.

Pardew hinted that he may turn to them again in future Premier League engagements.

He said: “I thought they were both good tonight. We had Ameobi to Ameobi – which is almost like a song – for the second goal, which was nice.

“It was a great little turn from Sammy. He has just got this way of getting out of corners that I have not seen many players being able to get out of. He wriggles out of situations.

“He still needs to tighten up a little bit on the tactical and intelligence sides of the game. He takes people on where perhaps he should pass. But he will learn that.

“He showed his talent, and he marks at set-plays, which he needs to do. He’s 6ft 5in. He’s not very good at it, but he’s learning.”

Bordeaux’s home win over Maritimo means that Group D is now looking increasingly like a two-way tussle, and United can book their progress into the knockout stages by defeating the group’s whipping boys at St James’ Park in a fortnight.

Pardew admitted that his team, who will train today after flying back last night, are now odds-on to make it into the next round.

“We are going to have to kick ourselves if we don’t beat Maritimo at home, with all due respect to them,” he said.

“We have got ourselves in a great position and are looking to just wrap the league up perhaps with that win there, which is our next game. Our attention now turns to West Ham, and it did actually before the end of the game. I took Willo off to protect him for Sunday, so now the focus is on West Ham.”

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