Second-half goals by Alan Shearer and Lee Bowyer gave ten-man Newcastle United FC a UEFA Cup Round of 32 first-leg win at a spirited SC Heerenveen.
The impressive Klaas Jan Huntelaar had given the hosts a deserved lead at the break, but Newcastle were revived by a second-half tactical switch and held on to win despite Bowyer's late dismissal.
Both sides were without players through illness, Arek Radomski for the hosts and Kieron Dyer for Newcastle, although Jermaine Jenas did shrug off similar flu symptoms to start for the English team. Newcastle settled the quicker but Heerenveen got to grips with the visitors' front three of Shearer, Patrick Kluivert and Shola Ameobi and began to attack themselves.
Ugur Yildirim, Mika Väyrynen and Daniel Berg Hestad provided dangerous crosses towards Arnold Bruggink and Huntelaar. Despite both sides showing plenty of attacking spirit, however, it was 20 minutes before the first chance, Yildirim's shot charged down by Jenas after Hestad's cross.
Newcastle responded through Céléstine Babayaro’s determined left-flank run, but on 24 minutes they went behind. Titus Bramble failed to deal with an upfield pass and Bruggink pulled it back for Huntelaar. The striker, a constant threat during the early stages, twisted and fired hard and high past Shay Given.
Huntelaar had the chance to double his tally just two minutes later, but headed straight at Given from another Yildirim cross. Newcastle continued to look stretched as they tried to contend with Heerenveen's relentless attacks, while at the other end their early promise had all but dried up.
After the break it was still Huntelaar who looked most lively, with Bramble twice having to tend to the young striker as he bore down on goal. But gradually the hosts' threat diminished, and Newcastle glimpsed their chance.
Newcastle's fortunes seemed to swing on the 62nd-minute introduction of Laurent Robert, just as the increasingly frustrated away fans had been demanding from the stands. With the departure of Ameobi, Newcastle reverted to 4-4-2 with Kluivert up front alongside Shearer. And on 67 minutes Kluivert played his partner in on goal, only to see Said Bakkati make an amazing block.
But two minutes later the same pair combined and from an identical position Shearer made no mistake, driving past Brian Vanderbussche from 15 metres. Heerenveen responded by refreshing their attack, bringing on Georgios Samaras and Victor Sikora for the tired Bruggink and Huntelaar. But they had barely had chance to warm up when they went behind on 82 minutes, the busy Bowyer deftly flicking in Stephen Carr's cross.
Bowyer's joy was short-lived, however, as he was shown a second yellow card for deliberate handball deep in midfield. It was the second sending-off of the season for Bowyer, for whom tonight marked a return from another European suspension. But Newcastle played out a win which puts them in the driving seat ahead of next week's second leg.