A robust defensive performance earned Newcastle a goalless draw in the first leg of their last-16 Europa League tie against Anzhi Makhachkala.

The only shot of a lacklustre first half came from Samuel Eto'o, who tested Rob Elliot with a long-range strike.

Both teams improved after the break, with a fabulous low save from Elliot preventing Eto'o from scoring.

Newcastle responded and would have gone ahead had Hatem Ben Arfa not shot straight at Vladimir Gabulov.

It was the closest Newcastle, shorn of six regular members of the first team, came to piercing a defence which has conceded only one goal in the competition so far.

But it will be his team's defensive display, during what was a forgettable match, which will please Pardew the most.

The Magpies had scouts keeping tabs on the wealthy Russians for almost three weeks before the tie and even sent former striker Peter Beardsley to Moscow last week to inspect the synthetic pitch.

Anzhi playing away from home

Anzhi are based in Dagestan but the overspill of guerrilla war from neighbouring Chechnya means they must play European games 1,000 miles away in the Russian capital.

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew also studied DVDs of the two Europa League group matches between Liverpool and Anzhi earlier in the season.

Guus Hiddink's men beat the Anfield club 1-0 through brawn rather than beauty in Russia, but they were unable to bully a spirited Newcastle in freezing conditions at the Luzhniki Stadium.

Newcastle's homework had paid dividends and with Pardew having already described playing next week's second leg at St James' Park as an advantage, the Magpies have hope against Hiddink's start-studded team.

The visitors defended deep, often with nine players inside their own half, and suffocated talents such as former Barcelona striker Eto'o and ex-Real Madrid midfielder Lassana Diarra.

Even though possession belonged to Anzhi, the Russians lacked adventure and a long-range dipping strike from Eto'o in the 39th minute - pushed over the crossbar by the underemployed Elliot - was the only attempt at goal from either side before the break.

Anzhi had started well, with the swift, intelligent movement of Willian, a £30m January signing from Shakhtar Donetsk, promising to pose a stern examination to Newcastle's defenders.

But once the Brazilian playmaker departed the field in the 22nd minute after falling awkwardly while under a challenge from Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Anzhi's attacking thrust seemed to disappear too.

The Magpies were as timid as the hosts in the final third, although lone striker Ben Arfa, making his first appearance in 12 weeks, did squander a fabulous chance.

Ben Arfa, set free by captain Yohan Cabaye, was unable to mark his 26th birthday with a goal, chipping instead into the hands of Vladimir Gabulov.

The Frenchman's opportunity came a couple of minutes after Elliot had stretched every sinew to stop a 25-yard effort from Eto'o in the 60th minute.

Ben Arfa was substituted within minutes of missing his chance and the 26-year-old's shot proved not only to be his final act of the match, but the last significant opening in a yawn-inducing game.

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew:

"It was an absolutely outstanding performance, on a pitch and in conditions that really didn't suit us.

"Our technical players played really well. We controlled the game and limited them to two shots on target and I'm delighted with that.

"We've given ourselves an opportunity to win at home and I fancy us against anybody at home. This is an optimum competition for us."

Anzhi Makhachkala's assistant coach Zeljko Petrovic:

"We played a very complicated game against a team from the Premier League.

"We are not disappointed because we played a good game, tactically a very strong game. Newcastle actually didn't play a Premier League game, they played a European game."

Lineup, Bookings (1) & Substitutions (6)

Anzhi Makhachkala

  • 01 Gabulov
  • 02 Yeschenko (Logashov - 90' )
  • 05 Carlos
  • 37 Ewerton
  • 08 Jucilei
  • 14 Shatov (Gonzalez - 84' )
  • 18 Zhirkov
  • 25 Ahmedov
  • 85 Diarra
  • 88 Willian (Traore - 22' )
  • 09 Eto'o

Substitutes

  • 22 Pomazan
  • 03 Gadzhibekov
  • 13 Tagirbekov
  • 15 Logashov
  • 16 Gonzalez
  • 19 Traore
  • 20 Smolov

Newcastle

  • 21 Elliot
  • 05 Simpson
  • 13 Yanga-M'Biwa
  • 14 Perch
  • 35 Haidara Booked
  • 04 Cabaye (Tiote - 84' )
  • 07 Sissoko
  • 08 Anita (S Taylor - 75' )
  • 10 Ben Arfa (Sh Ameobi - 64' )
  • 22 Marveaux
  • 25 Obertan

Substitutes

  • 42 Alnwick
  • 03 Santon
  • 27 S Taylor
  • 20 Bigirimana
  • 24 Tiote
  • 23 Sh Ameobi
  • 49 Campbell
Ref: Vad
Att: 5,000

Match Stats

Shots

9 4

On target

3 1

Corners

6 2

Fouls

9 7

Live Text Commentary

90:00 +3:03 Full time

Full Time The game is over, as the referee blows his whistle.

90:00 +2:28

Shot on goal by Steven Taylor from inside the box goes harmlessly over the target.

90:00 +1:44

The referee blows for offside against Lacina Traore. Rob Elliot takes the free kick.

90:00 +0:19

Silva Jucilei takes a shot. Blocked by James Perch.

89:48 Substitution

Substitution Arseni Logashov is brought on as a substitute for Andrei Yeschenko.

86:49

Samuel Eto'o takes a shot. Comfortable save by Rob Elliot.

86:04

The ball is delivered by Danny Simpson, Andrei Yeschenko makes a clearance.

83:48 Substitution

Substitution Mehdi Carcela-Gonzalez on for Oleg Shatov.

83:37 Substitution

Substitution Cheick Tiote comes on in place of Yohan Cabaye.

81:18

The ball is delivered by Massadio Haidara, clearance made by Santos Ewerton.

80:42

The ball is delivered by Gabriel Obertan, clearance by Santos Ewerton.

80:10

The assistant referee flags for offside against Shola Ameobi. Vladimir Gabulov takes the indirect free kick.

78:46

Corner taken right-footed by Sylvain Marveaux, Lassana Diarra manages to make a clearance.

78:19

Sylvain Marveaux takes a shot. Andrei Yeschenko gets a block in.

76:36

Lacina Traore fouled by Yohan Cabaye, the ref awards a free kick. Samuel Eto'o has an effort direct from the free kick.

76:05

The referee blows for offside. Free kick taken by Vladimir Gabulov.

75:24

Shola Ameobi is caught offside. Vladimir Gabulov takes the free kick.

74:53 Substitution

Substitution Steven Taylor replaces Vurnon Anita.

74:05

Oleg Shatov takes a shot. James Perch gets a block in.

72:31

Vurnon Anita takes a shot.

71:09

Short corner worked by Oleg Shatov.

69:21

Lacina Traore gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Rob Elliot. Rob Elliot takes the indirect free kick.

67:36

The ball is delivered by Andrei Yeschenko, Massadio Haidara manages to make a clearance.

65:04

Shot by Silva Jucilei from outside the box goes high over the crossbar.

63:18

Sylvain Marveaux takes the free kick.

63:18 Substitution

Substitution Hatem Ben Arfa goes off and Shola Ameobi comes on.

63:18

Unfair challenge on James Perch by Silva Jucilei results in a free kick.

62:50

Hatem Ben Arfa takes a shot. Vladimir Gabulov makes a brilliant save.

62:12

Free kick awarded for a foul by Hatem Ben Arfa on Andrei Yeschenko. Free kick taken by Santos Ewerton.

61:46

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Massadio Haidara by Lassana Diarra. Rob Elliot restarts play with the free kick.

61:07

Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Samuel Eto'o, Oleg Shatov has an effort from just inside the box that misses to the left of the goal.

60:19

Shot by Samuel Eto'o. Save by Rob Elliot.

57:44

Centre by Lassana Diarra, James Perch manages to make a clearance.

56:57

The ball is sent over by Santos Ewerton, clearance made by James Perch.

56:35

Centre by Andrei Yeschenko.

56:11

The ball is delivered by Moussa Sissoko.

52:49

Lacina Traore challenges James Perch unfairly and gives away a free kick. Indirect free kick taken by Danny Simpson.

50:29

Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Samuel Eto'o from the right by-line, Danny Simpson makes a clearance.

48:53

Samuel Eto'o takes a shot. Blocked by James Perch.

45:01

The game restarts for the second half.

45:00 +1:10 Half time

Half Time The match has reached half-time.

44:39

The assistant referee signals for offside against Lassana Diarra. Rob Elliot takes the indirect free kick.

43:53

The ball is sent over by Massadio Haidara.

42:39

Foul by Odil Ahmedov on Massadio Haidara, free kick awarded. The free kick is swung in right-footed by Sylvain Marveaux, clearance made by Pinto Joao Carlos.

40:50

Oleg Shatov is adjudged to have handled the ball. Indirect free kick taken by Rob Elliot.

39:28

Outswinging corner taken by Samuel Eto'o from the right by-line, Danny Simpson makes a clearance.

38:56

Samuel Eto'o takes a shot. Fantastic save by Rob Elliot.

37:38

Free kick awarded for a foul by Danny Simpson on Lacina Traore. Vladimir Gabulov takes the indirect free kick.

33:05

Oleg Shatov takes the free kick.

33:05 Booking

Booking Massadio Haidara booked for unsporting behaviour.

32:53

Unfair challenge on Odil Ahmedov by Massadio Haidara results in a free kick.

32:28

The ball is crossed by Andrei Yeschenko, Danny Simpson makes a clearance.

31:51

Free kick awarded for a foul by Moussa Sissoko on Andrei Yeschenko. Andrei Yeschenko takes the indirect free kick.

31:38

Samuel Eto'o is ruled offside. Massadio Haidara restarts play with the free kick.

31:04

A cross is delivered by Moussa Sissoko, clearance by Pinto Joao Carlos.

29:20

Free kick awarded for a foul by Gabriel Obertan on Andrei Yeschenko. Andrei Yeschenko restarts play with the free kick.

28:22

Lacina Traore gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Hatem Ben Arfa. Danny Simpson restarts play with the free kick.

27:41

Short corner taken by Sylvain Marveaux from the right by-line.

27:08

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Yohan Cabaye by Lacina Traore. Rob Elliot takes the indirect free kick.

26:40

Lacina Traore is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Indirect free kick taken by Rob Elliot.

23:16

Free kick awarded for a foul by Lacina Traore on Danny Simpson. Rob Elliot restarts play with the free kick.

21:48 Substitution

Substitution Lacina Traore is brought on as a substitute for da Silva Willian.

21:48

The referee blows for offside against James Perch. Indirect free kick taken by Vladimir Gabulov.

19:26

The assistant referee signals for offside against Hatem Ben Arfa. Vladimir Gabulov takes the indirect free kick.

17:57

Outswinging corner taken by Oleg Shatov, clearance by Yohan Cabaye.

16:54

Corner from the right by-line taken by da Silva Willian, clearance made by Yohan Cabaye.

13:19

Oleg Shatov crosses the ball, clearance made by James Perch.

10:12

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Sylvain Marveaux by da Silva Willian. James Perch restarts play with the free kick.

5:56

Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa concedes a free kick for a foul on Samuel Eto'o. Da Silva Willian takes the free kick.

1:16

Gabriel Obertan produces a cross, clearance by Pinto Joao Carlos.

0:00

The match gets underway.

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