Newcastle United FC kept alive their hopes of progressing to the UEFA Champions League's second group stage with a stunning 1-0 win over Juventus FC in Group E at St James' Park.
A bizarre goal from Andy Griffin 17 minutes into the second half was enough to secure three precious points for the home side, who worked tirelessly against their more illustrious opposition.
Knowing that anything less than victory could see them eliminated, Newcastle began at a ferocious pace but struggled to create any clear-cut opportunities early on. With Craig Bellamy suspended, Newcastle coach Sir Bobby Robson put his faith in a strike partnership of Lomana LuaLua and Alan Shearer - and the duo created the home side's first chance, LuaLua's flicked header volleyed over the bar from an acute angle by the former England striker on 16 minutes.
Visitors on top
But by that stage Juventus had already given the home fans a scare when Marco Di Vaio outpaced Griffin, the 23-year-old Newcastle full-back, and thundered into the area before sliding his effort harmlessly across the face of goal.
At times Newcastle appeared too tentative in their approach play, with several of their younger players seemingly overawed by the occasion. But home goalkeeper Stephen Harper kept his cool midway through the half, when he raced out of the Newcastle penalty area to save with his body at the feet of Di Vaio. It seemed to lift the hosts as, on the half -hour mark, Juventus stood still expecting a free-kick for a sliding challenge on Nedved, but the referee waved play on allowing Nolberto Solano to hammer a shot just wide of Juventus keeper Gianluigi Buffon's right-hand post.
The best chance of the half fell to Newcastle's Frenchman Laurent Robert after Speed's intelligent flicked header fell into his path from Nolberto Solano's angled cross. But despite having time and space, Robert drove the ball narrowly wide of the far post.
Newcastle emerged from the dressing room prepared to raise their game after the interval and began to pepper the Juventus goal. Buffon saved superbly from Solano's close-range effort on 55 minutes and then denied Shearer a spectacular goal by palming away his venomous free-kick seven minutes later.
Newcastle's pressure was eventually too much, however, and Griffin, making only his fifth career appearance on the European stage, burst forward down the inside-right channel and watched Buffon somehow bundle his low, hooked cross into the net.
The Italian keeper made several terrific stops by way of compensation, notably a one-handed diving save on 65 minutes to deny Solano and, with 14 minutes remaining, a sturdy block to keep out Robert's 35-metre effort.
But from that point on the Newcastle players had their minds on a 1-0 victory and had to weather several Juventus attacks. Harper raced out to deny Del Piero an equaliser with ten minutes left but when the Italian international fed substitute Marcelo Zalayeta, the keeper could only watch as his shot hurtled past him - and rattled the Newcastle crossbar.
Group wide open
Newcastle remain rooted to the bottom of Group E, two points adrift of Feyenoord, who lost 2-0 to FC Dynamo Kyiv - the Ukraine side are now joint-top with Juventus on seven points with two games remaining.
©UEFA.com 1998-2017. All rights reserved.