Newcastle United FC's first-ever win on French soil helped Graeme Souness's side reach the UEFA Cup knockout stage in style by overcoming FC Sochaux-Montbéliard at the Stade Auguste Bonal to advance from Group D.
Having weathered an early storm, the visitors took the lead through Lee Bowyer, before Shola Ameobi's goal seconds into the second half and a penalty miss by Jérémy Mathieu effectively ended the home side's challenge. Craig Bellamy and substitute Laurent Robert completed an emphatic victory.
Fine league form
Following a fine win at AS Monaco FC last Friday that lifted Sochaux to third in Ligue 1, the home side made just one change, Grégory Paisley replacing Ibrahim Tall in defence. Injury meant Newcastle were again without captain Alan Shearer and Irish defensive pair Andy O'Brien and Stephen Carr, while Shola Ameobi took Patrick Kluivert's striking berth.
It was the home side who started the better, and pressed Newcastle back inside their own half. Twice in a minute Brazilian striker Ilan hesitated when well-placed, before Jérémy Menez, part of the French side that lifted the UEFA European Under-17 Championship crown in May, tested Shay Given with a brilliant free-kick.
The visitors quickly regrouped, though, and took the lead a minute before the half-hour, Bowyer capitalising on Paisley's slip and Ameobi's persistence to fire low past Teddy Richert from 15 metres. A minute later Milner somehow failed to make it two, scooping over Bellamy's centre from six metres after Given's adroit downfield pass.
The goalkeeper was soon in action at his own end, saving sharply from Ilan's low shot, and tipping away Mickaël Isabey's dinked shot moments later. But having come so close to drawing level, Sochaux handed the game to Newcastle in the first minute of the second half. Bernard's cross was flicked on by the unfortunate Paisley, and it was left for Ameobi to knock in his tenth goal in UEFA club competitions.
Sochaux appeared stunned, but continued with their tidy approach play, although without truly threatening Given's goal again. The home side were given a gilt-edged opportunity to get back into the game in the 64th minute as the referee's assistant spotted a foul on Ilan, but Mathieu rolled his spot-kick past the post. With the points looking secure, Newcastle manager Souness opted to make changes and removed Bowyer, whose earlier yellow card means he will sit out Newcastle's final group game against Sporting Clube de Portugal on 16 December.
Bowyer's replacement Kieron Dyer helped set up the third goal, releasing Aaron Hughes into space on the overlap. The right-back advanced into the Sochaux area and squared to leave Bellamy with a simple tap-in. Robert then marked his return to his homeland with a beautiful free-kick in the final minute, although there was still time for Richert to deny Ameobi and Robert. The French side remained in third place in the section, and will seek to bounce back at Sporting on 1 December.