Valerenga 1 Newcastle United 1

Last updated : 26 February 2004 By Footymad Previewer

Newcastle United are firm favourites to make progress in the UEFA Cup after snatching a 1-1 draw against the minnows of Valerenga in Oslo.

This was expected to be a clear-cut win for Sir Bobby Robson's side who are idolised by their many fans in Norway.

And after going ahead in the first half when Craig Bellamy scored for the third successive game, the writing looked to be on the wall for Valerenga who because of their mid-season break had not played a competitive game since the autumn.

Yet it proved to be no shock when former Coventry man Runar Normann headed Valerenga level early in the second half.

In the freezing conditions the Magpies never really got going and could have no complaints about the final result that still leaves them in the driving seat courtesy of that away goal.

United found it difficult throughout on the slippery and uneven Ullevaal Stadium surface.

It was Valerenga who almost went in front from what was their only shot on target in the opening half. A clever ball from Morten Berre played in Freddy Dos Santos on the right of the area and his cross shot was excellently turned away by Shay Given.

From then on, it was all United. Darren Ambrose should have done better when set up by Bellamy after 22 minutes but went for the near post allowing Oyvind Bolthof to save when a shot across the keeper appeared the better option.

Likewise more was expected when Bellamy was again the provider for Gary Speed this time from the left, but the skipper's free header went wide.

However, the deadlock was broken seven minutes later. Hugo Viana's right- wing corner was met by Speed whose header was blocked on the line by David Hanssen.

The ball flew back out to Viana whose cross this time was met perfectly by Bellamy who expertly volleyed a shot into the net off the far post from 12 yards.

This was Bellamy's second goal at this stadium having scored there in 2001 for Wales against Norway.

Expectations that the Norwegian side would tire in the second half allowing Newcastle's superior fitness to tell - were well off the mark.

Valerenga started the second half with all guns blazing and United were indebted to some poor finishing from Daniel Fredheim Holm who had a couple of golden opportunities to level it up.

Even so an equaliser looked on the cards and it was no great surprise when the home side drew level on 54 minutes through Normann.

Having managed just one goal from their previous two ties this season, the second arrived after 414 minutes of UEFA Cup football when substitute Tommy Edvardsen crossed deep from the left and Normann climbed above the flat-footed Aaron Hughes to loop his header beyond Given.

Apart from a poor header from Shola Ameobi, United did not have much more to show as at times they appeared to be reeling on the ropes as the gallant Norwegians ensured this tie is still well and truly alive at St James' Park next Wednesday.

United lost Ambrose with suspected cartilage problems after 51 minutes and he faces further tests when he returns to Tyneside.