Newcastle United’s Obertan wants first-team opportunity

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GABRIEL Obertan is looking to force his way into Alan Pardew’s Premier League team – after finally opening his account at St James’s Park.

The winger scored the only goal of the game against Club Brugge in the Europa League last night.

Obertan – who finds his way to Pardew’s side blocked by Hatem Ben Arfa – was pleased to have played his part.

“It was good – it was my first goal at St James’s Park,” said Obertan. “It feels good for the confidence. For an offensive player like myself, it’s just great.

“It was a tough game – we expected that. It was great for some players – Sammy, Shane (Ferguson) and all the young lads played really well.

“We got the three points, and are top of the group. It looks very good for the future.”

Pardew made nine changes from the side which drew 1-1 with Sunderland in Sunday’s Wear-Tyne derby.

Obertan added: “We don’t get to play much in the Premier League, so we wanted to show the gaffer that we could have a starting position in the Premier League.

“I feel I’ve done pretty well in the Europa League, and I’ll wait for that position to come.”

Newcastle now have a satisfactory seven points from three games and leave themselves on the brink of qualification for the last 32.

Brugge gave as good as they got in an open first half. Maxime Lestienne forced a third-minute save from Steve Harper within three minutes of kick-off and shot across goal and narrowly wide of the far post a minute before the break.

Newcastle had chances of their own though. Cisse might have struck with 14 minutes gone with a firm downward header, but saw keeper Bojan Jorgacevic block with his body.

Sammy Ameobi tested Jorgacevic with a rising 25-yard drive three minutes later and dragged a 31st-minute effort just wide.

However, the visitors were handed a golden opportunity to make the breakthrough three minutes later when Cheick Tiote played a blind pass to nobody in particular and saw Lestienne run in on goal but fire wide, with the help of a deflection off the covering Taylor.

Newcastle took the lead early in the second half when Sammy Ameobi produced an outrageous piece of skill to play the ball into space before laying into the path of Obertan, who thumped it past Jorgacevic and inside the far post.

The lead might have lasted just four minutes, however, had 37-year-old Harper not shown commendable agility to get down at his near post and turn Rafaelov’s left-foot shot away for a corner.

Brugge were responding well and Harper was pleased to see a 59th-minute shot from substitute Ivan Trickovski drift well wide before fielding a toe-poked effort from Bacca seconds later.

Newcastle had lost all composure in the face of a sustained assault, but gradually regained it with Fabricio Coloccini and Yohan Cabaye having joined the fray to edge their way towards the final whistle and the three points.

Newcastle United: Harper, Santon, Perch, S Taylor, Ferguson (Cabaye), Anita (Sh Ameobi), Bigirimana, Tiote, Obertan, Cisse, Sa Ameobi (Coloccini). Subs: Krul, Ben Arfa, Ba, Campbell

Club Bruges: Jorgacevic, Hogli, Hoefkens, Buysse, Figueras Jordi, Odjija Ofoe, Rafaelov (Trickovski), Jorgensen, Blondel Booked (Van Acker), Lestienne, Bacca. Subs: Kujovic, Vansteenkiste, Engels, Vazquez, Vleminckx.

Ref: Hansson Att: 33,124.