Internazionale FC twice came from behind to edge closer to the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals by recording a 2-2 draw against Newcastle United FC in the Giuseppe Meazza stadium.
The result leaves Héctor Cúper's side a point ahead of Newcastle in Group A, with a trip to face winless Bayer 04 Leverkusen in store next Wednesday - but at times it seemed the Italian side would be on the brink of elimination after a rampant display from the visitors. Former England captain Alan Shearer twice put Newcastle into the lead in an enthralling encounter - but headers from Christian Vieri and Iván Córdoba clawed the home side level.
Newcastle made a shaky start and Inter almost capitalised when Andy O'Brien stumbled in possession on the edge of the visitors' area and allowed Emre Belözoglu to have an early sight of goal - but the Turkish international lifted his shot narrowly over the target.
Five minutes later there was drama at the other end of the field when the ball span out to Nolberto Solano, who rattled the Inter crossbar from 20 metres with Francesco Toldo well beaten. The Peruvian midfield player had another chance on 19 minutes when Shearer's square ball from the left eluded everybody - but although Solano arrived at the far post, his thunderous effort was parried by Toldo.
Midway through a frantic first half, Jermaine Jenas dribbled into the Inter area but opted for goal rather than feeding Shearer to his left and Toldo made a vital save low to his left - but the 32-year-old striker did not have to wait too long for a goal. After the industrious Fabio Cannavaro had seen his thumping 39th-minute header saved by Shay Given at one end, Shearer broke the deadlock at the other, sliding in to tap in Craig Bellamy's low, right-wing cross.
Newcastle hung on for half-time but were stunned moments after the restart as Vieri ended his Champions League goal drought for Inter by glancing a header past Given from Sérgio Conceição's pin-point cross. It seemed Inter, depleted by injuries and Alvaro Recoba's suspension, would assume the upper hand but within two minutes, Shearer had restored the visitors' lead. Toldo fumbled Bellamy's half-hearted flick at goal and Shearer pounced to slide in his second goal of the night and send the estimated 10,000 travelling supporters into raptures.
Inter's second equaliser came after Emre delivered a swinging cross on 61 minutes and Córdoba towered over Andy Griffin at the far post to nod the ball down past Given. An electric finale seemed inevitable but, although Gary Speed and Bellamy both went close for Newcastle, the game fizzled out and instead a rash of yellow cards were handed out by the referee. In all seven players were booked, notably Vieri, who will now miss the trip to Germany the same night that Newcastle must overcome FC Barcelona in England.