Two second-half Shola Ameobi goals proved decisive for Newcastle United FC who knocked out a plucky Vålerenga IF side who will feel unlucky to lose by a 4-2 aggregate margin.
Newcastle welcomed back Jonathan Woodgate after injury and there was a starting place for captain Alan Shearer, controversially left out last week. Meanwhile the Norwegian team surprisingly dropped first leg goalscorer Runar Normann.
Vålerenga on top
On a sodden pitch it was Vålerenga who started the more confident. Despite only playing one competitive match since the start of November they took the game to their more illustrious opponents and had the first chance, Daniel Holm forcing Shay Given into a good save low to his left on six minutes.
Shearer could have put the English team in front moments later but, after chesting the ball down, his volley was saved at point-blank range by Oyvind Bolthof. But the former England captain did not have to wait much longer, the Vålerenga goalkeeper carrying the ball out of his area on 20 minutes and Shearer making no mistake with the resulting free-kick, driving it low into the net.
The lead lasted a mere five minutes though. The visiting side equalised through the bald-headed Erik Hagen, who volleyed past a line of Newcastle defenders to score. And they could have established a lead three minutes before the break but for Given save denying the skilful Ardian Gashi.
Newcastle were forced into a half-time change after Craig Bellamy picked up a hamstring strain. It was to prove inspired as substitute Ameobi turned the game for the home side, scoring almost immediately. He cut into the box from the left wing before hitting a shot which squirmed under Bolthof and rolled into the net.
The English under-21 international was displaying a confidence lacking in his team-mates during the first 45 minutes and this transferred throughout the Newcastle side in a much-improved second-half display. Michael Bridges, Titus Bramble and Shearer all went close in the opening 20 minutes of the half.
Berre golden opportunity
Needing only one goal to lead on away goals Vålerenga were always dangerous but wasted their chance of glory five minutes from time. A high ball was played into the penalty area and, just three metres out, Berre volleyed over with the goal at his mercy.
It was to prove decisive as Newcastle sealed the victory in the dying seconds. Jermaine Jenas sprung the offside trap and unselfishly squared the ball for Ameobi to tap in his second goal of the night. "I expected a hard game after the second half of the first leg," said Sir Bobby Robson. "And
I was delighted that Shola Ameobi scored twice. It's a big victory."
Vålerenga player/coach Kjetil Rekdal said: "We should have been in front at half-time and were disappointed to go in at 1-1.
We were the better side throughout the first half, but conceded a soft goal at the start of the second."
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