Experienced striker Albert Luque and teenage goalkeeper Tim Krul were the heroes for Newcastle United FC as they defeated US Città di Palermo to secure a second UEFA Cup Group H victory.
Both sides had won their Matchday 1 fixtures, so they knew three more points would take them to within touching distance of the Round of 32. UEFA Intertoto Cup winners Newcastle, in the midst of an injury crisis, gave a first start to 18-year-old Dutchman Krul, and he proved up to the task with some fine saves in defending the lead given to the visitors by Luque after 37 minutes.
Krul, who showed his potential in helping the Netherlands to the 2005 UEFA European Under-17 Championship final, had a nervous early moment when he gave the ball away to Franco Brienza, but he went unpunished and at the other end James Milner showed fine skills in twice going close. Indeed, it was an exciting first half with both teams playing positive football, and it was the English Premiership outfit who broke the deadlock. The lively Milner made a surging run on the left and sent in a perfect curling cross which was headed in by Luque, given a rare start in the absence of Obafemi Martins, Shola Ameobi, Damien Duff and Michael Owen.
Krul denies Caracciolo
This forced Serie A high-fliers Palermo, who had never previously lost a European home game, to push hard after the break, and Giovanni Tedesco threatened after a free-kick, nodding into the side-netting. Krul was now being asked to display his talent, making super stops in quick succession from Andrea Caracciolo's strong header and Mattia Cassani's swift follow-up. Caracciolo was denied twice more by Krul, who blocked a one-on-one then saved a longer-range effort. Newcastle, who brought on Andy Carroll in injury time to become their youngest-ever player in European football at 17 years and 267 days, should be full of confidence when they welcome RC Celta de Vigo in three weeks' time, while Palermo must regroup before they go to Fenerbahçe SK.