Fri, Nov 15, 2002 - Page 23 News List

Toon Army makes final 16 the hard way

GREEN LIGHT Newcastle secured its place in the final 16 of the Champions League but Dynamo, Feyenoord, Galatasaray, Lens and FC Brugge were all out of the event

AP , LONDON

Feyenoord goalkeeper Patrick Lodewijks can't stop Newcastle United's Craig Bellamy from scoring during their Champions League match in Rotterdam, on Wednesday, won by Newcastle 3-2.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Two-goal Craig Bellamy fired Bobby Robson's Newcastle into the last 16 of the Champions League as a 3-2 victory at Feyenoord completed a record-breaking comeback.

After losing their first three group games, the Magpies appeared to be going out early. But Robson's team then beat Juventus, Dynamo Kiev and Feyenoord to capture second place in Group E along with the Italians, who ousted Dynamo with a 2-1 victory in Ukraine.

No other team had come back from three defeats down, but the 69-year-old Robson, who has had club successes with FC Barcelona, FC Porto, Sporting Lisbon, PSV Eindhoven and Ipswich, watched his team score three times on the final day of qualifying in Rotterdam, with two strikes by a barely fit Welsh international Bellamy.

``The physios have worked wonders to get me playing here today,'' said Bellamy, who also needed treatment from experts in the US to repair an injured knee.

``They knew this was the game I was looking for. I missed a couple of Champions League games. I have worked so hard to get into this competition and I missed it due to a stupid suspension. But I knew this was going to be the big one. Tonight was a great occasion.

``We've done it the hard way but we've proved that we have a good side and deserve to be into it.''

Co-striker Alan Shearer paid tribute to his teammate and the team's ability to come back.

``What resolve we have in our team,'' he said. ``After losing our first three games and then to qualify like this it's absolutely remarkable.

``Craig Bellamy scored two very big goals for us tonight. He was genuinely worried about his knee and he wanted reassuring from a top surgeon in American and we're all thankful that he's OK.''

Newcastle, Deportivo de La Coruna and Lokomotiv Moscow captured the last three places in the final 16 of the Champions League while Dynamo, Feyenoord, Galatasaray, Lens and FC Brugge went out.

Depor hit back from a goal down to win 2-1 at AC Milan and that put the Spanish club out of range of French club Lens in Group G. Milan had already qualified and Lens tied 3-3 at last place Bayern Munich.

Barcelona wound up the only one of the 32 first round teams to have a perfect record of six wins by beating Galatasaray 3-1.

In the same group, Lokomotiv scored a 2-0 victory over Brugge to jump from last and take second spot, leaving the Belgians with the consolation of a place in the third round of the UEFA Cup.

The draws for both both of the competitions are today in Geneva.

The three final qualifiers joined three Spanish clubs, defending and nine-time champion Real Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia, Italy's Juventus, AC Milan, Inter Milan and AS Roma, England's Manchester United and Arsenal, Germany's Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund, the Netherlands' Ajax Amsterdam and Switzerland's FC Basel in the second round.

Juan Sebastian Veron and Ruud van Nistelrooy scored the goals as Manchester United made sure of top spot in Group F.

The eight group winners -- Real Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Arsenal, Manchester United, Inter Milan, AC Milan and Juventus -- are seeded in today's round so that they can't all meet each other in the next phase.

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