Newcastle United FC took a giant stride towards the next stage of the UEFA Cup after an impressive 3-1 victory away to SV Zulte Waregem in their Round of 32 first-leg tie in Ghent.
An own goal by Frédéric Dindeleux, a penalty by Nigerian striker Obafemi Martins and a superb individual effort by Antoine Sibierski settled the issue in Newcastle's favour, leaving the Belgian side with an extremely difficult task when they visit St James' Park on 22 February.
The hosts held their own in the first half but were lucky not to be trailing at the break after a glaring miss by Martins, who struck his shot from three metres out against the leg of Zulte Waregem goalkeeper Pieter Merlier and the ball skimmed just past the post for a corner.
Newcastle had the lion's share of possession and eventually took the lead in the 47th minute when Dindeleux turned a low cross by Kieron Dyer into his own net. With just under an hour played, the Magpies doubled their advantage when Merlier brought down Damien Duff in the penalty area and Martins scored from the spot.
Hopes of a Zulte Waregem revival were kindled when defender Karel D'Haene was left unmarked to glance a header just inside the post and reduce the deficit on 69 minutes, but Newcastle restored their healthy lead with their third strike of the night. Frenchman Sibierski skipped past two defenders and rounded Merlier to tap in his fourth UEFA Cup goal of the season after 76 minutes and leave Newcastle in a commanding position.