This was a friendly game that was the absolute opposite of friendly.
Newcastle United drew the match, but lost captain Fabricio Coloccini to a red card before half-time in a fiery encounter that was bad tempered from the start.
Alan Pardew would have been happy just to leave Pacos de Ferreira last night with no major injuries as the tackles flew in on his players. That’s when they weren’t fighting one another.
Phew. This was some evening. It was as far from a meaningless runabout as you can get. At least Newcastle could say it was a proper test.
It was a rather odd setting for even a pre-season game.
Pacos de Ferreira finished third in the Portuguese league last season, earning themselves a place in the Champions League qualifiers.
Their ground, Estadio da Mata Real, has just two small stands and looked more Blue Square Premier than the European Cup.
Still, this is a strong Portuguese side and as expected provided Newcastle with a good workout. They most certainly did that.
For a set of players that were “fatigued” to use Pardew’s word, they looked fairly fresh and began the match in a quick pace.
Shola Ameobi was the first to have a shot on goal when his left-foot effort on two minutes, made difficult by the fact the ball was rising, flashed over.
Newcastle put together a good move on ten minutes when Moussa Sissoko and Hatem Ben Arfa played a neat one two that carved open the Pacos defence, giving the latter a run in on goal, thanks to a lovely first touch from the former.
Sissoko, however, delayed getting off a shot that allowed Roberto Dias to clear.
It was good to see the two combined so well. If Newcastle are to do anything next season, these two need to link up.
But it wasn’t so good to see the Portuguese score on 15 minutes. There seemed to be little danger when Caetano fed a pass to Jamie Poulson whose cross should have been dealt with by the Newcastle defence. The ball landed nicely back at the right foot of Caetano and to be fair his low finish past Rob Elliot was class.
The referee, Jorge Sousa, had cause to speak with Cabaye who was late on Ruben. It wasn’t his first foul. Caetano wasn’t far away from a second on 19 minutes. From a free kick close to right touchline and 40 yards from goal, Sergio Oliveira sent in one of those crosses defenders hate and striker thrive on.
Caetano was a few inches away from connecting just in front of goal while the Newcastle players were never getting a touch. It was time for Ben Arfa to produce something at the other end. He twisted, turned, feigned a shot one way and then the other, before sending his shot over from the edge of the box. That’s what Pardew wants to see from his No10.
Mathieu Debuchy got away with one on 25 minutes when he seemed to rather clearly handle a ball in the box that was about to fall kindly to that man Caetano. The referee missed it.
There were a few meaty tackles being put in, and one or two players on both sides losing their temper. Steven Taylor earned himself a yellow card, supposedly for something he said.
And then it all got really tasty.
Debuchy absolutely lost it with Helder Lopes, whom he accused of slapping him in the face. They had to be separated – good job for Lopes, to be honest – as arguments started all over the pitch.
Pardew and John Carver were incensed with Lopes; the manager actually walked on to the playing area to voice his disgust. Both players were booked.
Getting back to the game itself, and a fine run from Debuchy down the right ended with him finding Ameobi snr with a fine cross that was headed just wide.
Booking number came on 34 minutes when Pacos captain Anunciacao tripped young Ameobi. And then it all went a bit crazy. Coloccini and Caetano squared up to each other on the edge of Newcastle’s box as they went for a ball. Caetano pulled the hair of the Argentinian, which didn’t go down well, and he reacted by grabbing the striker’s throat.
The Pacos man collapsed to the ground as if he been shot and chaos ensued.
Pacos defender Tony seemed to want to fight everyone – there were some takers – and for a minute or so there were 15 players wrestling with each other.
Referee Sousa, who must have thought he was in for an easy night, eventually, sort of, calmed things down and then sent off Coloccini and Caetano.
The crowd got a bit nasty as well at this point. It was a good job that there was a few police around.
Remember, this was a friendly.
There were more changes in the second-half than Lady Gaga makes during an average performance. This probably helped to calm things down.
Little Tony could play a bit as well as fight, and his angled drive from 20 yards was just the wrong side of the post.
Shola got his second goal of the trip when he slammed home from just inside the box on 61 minutes. It was a smart finish.
Debuchy was a bit wild with a shot on 71 minutes, but Newcastle did step up the pace and the passing was much better than before.
Haris Vuckic hit the post with a header and cleared off his own line in the final minute, while Newcastle’s players continued to be kicked by their opponents.
In truth, the final whistle couldn’t come quickly enough.
PACOS DE FERREIRA: Filipe; Dias, Ruben, Leao, Caetano, Poulson, Oliveira, Lopes, Tony, Jose, Annunciacao. Substitutes: Degra, Vitor, Irobiso, Miguel, Hurtado, Santos, Ricardo, Neto, Antonio, Guerrero, Sousa, Eridson, Freitas.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Elliot; Debuchy, Taylor, Coloccini (c), Yanga-Mbiwa; Cabaye, Tiote; Sissoko, Ben Arfa, Sammy Ameobi, Shola Ameobi. Substitutes: Alnwick, Santon, Williamson, Dummett, Gutierrez, Marveaux, Gouffran, Vuckic, Campbell, Ameobi.
Referee: Jorge Sousa