Sep 20 2012
Shola Ameobi came agonisingly close to firing Newcastle to an opening Europa League victory as the woodwork and Maritimo keeper Romain Salin combined to thwart him in a goalless draw.
The 30-year-old, captaining a much-changed side at the Estadio dos Barreiros, hit both the post and the crossbar and saw Salin block another effort on a frustrating evening for the Magpies in Madeira.
Midfielder Dan Gosling was also denied by an upright after Alan Pardew's men bounced back from a less than impressive start to their Group D campaign.
Maritimo, who went into the game unbeaten in seven matches in all competitions to date this season, were simply too good and too slick for Pardew's weakened side during the opening 25 minutes and, had it not been for keeper Rob Elliot, could have been in serious arrears.
But having endured a difficult start to the game, the Magpies gradually started to find their feet the woodwork which came to the Madeira side's rescue twice in quick succession.
Central defender Mike Williamson found the ball at his feet inside the penalty area and, when his shot was deflected, Ameobi dived in to head the ball towards goal where it hit the post and was bundled away by the recovering Salin, who had initially been wrong-footed.
Gosling was denied by the opposite upright on the half-hour when his 25-yard drive thumped off the foot of the post with Salin beaten.
Ameobi was desperately unfortunate not to score just two minutes after the restart when he capitalised on an error by Joao Guilherme to charge into the box and side-step Valentin Roberge before curling a shot past Salin, but on to the bar.
However, the home side perhaps should have gone ahead with 59 minutes gone when Leocisio Sami ran into space on the left and crossed for substitute Philipe Fidelis to blast a first-time effort just past the post with Elliot helpless.
The Magpies also enjoyed a major escape eight minutes from time when Roberge connected with Rafael Miranda's flick-on and Davide Santon somehow managed to smuggle the ball away with the help of the goal-frame, and Elliot saved unconvincingly from substitute Goncalo at the death.