Obafemi Martins was on target twice as Newcastle United FC took a significant step towards the UEFA Cup quarter-finals with an absorbing 4-2 victory against AZ Alkmaar.
Steinsson own goal
Martins was in awesome form at St James' Park, and it was his presence that forced Grétar Steinsson to put into his own net as early as the eighth minute. Two goals in two minutes from Martins and Kieron Dyer then left Newcastle three to the good midway through the half before Shota Arveladze struck for the visitors. Martins scored again eight minutes before half-time, and the English Premiership team will be favourites at the Alkmaarderhout in seven days' time, though Danny Koevermans' second-half effort gives AZ hope.
The Dutch side have not lost at their home ground in 28 European fixtures so the onus was on Newcastle to make the most of territorial advantage here. They were soon ahead as Dyer's low cross was turned past his own goalkeeper by Steinsson under pressure from Martins. AZ responded well, but were rocked as Glenn Roeder's team struck twice in as many minutes. Antoine Sibierski teed up both, his deft flick sending Dyer clear to make it 2-0 before releasing Martins, who weaved past Kew Jaliens and Barry Opdam before firing beyond Boy Waterman.
It left Louis van Gaal stone-faced on the AZ bench but within eight minutes he was up on his feet, punching the air as Arveladze emphatically headed in Julian Jenner's pinpoint cross. Martins soon restored the three-goal lead, sweeping in his sixth goal of this season's competition. But the second half belonged to AZ and they eventually got their reward when Steven Taylor was penalised for handball. Moussa Dembélé's spot-kick was saved by Shay Given but Koevermans tucked in the rebound to keep the tie alive.