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Byline: Paul Dixon

THAT was a week to savour, and it was all the sweeter as it was largely unexpected.

An excellent victory in 1960s Ukraine, followed by a very welcome three points against a very decent Southampton.

Dear old Shola has his critics, he can infuriate, but you have to hand it to the bloke, he rarely scores consolation goals.

This sets up nicely a tie against the Russian equivalent of Man Al City, and thankfully the 'home' game is being played in Moscow, rather than the mean streets of Squeakybumistan 1,000 miles to the south.

To put it in context, it is the equivalent of our team flying in from Madrid for home games.

We actually came within 90 seconds of being England's last representatives, after the nation's Vera Lynns crashed out, and the southerners fluking last-minute winners. Another step nearer Amsterdam and its cultural delights. Keep it up chaps.

Yesterday and Southampton.

Despite winning, until the comedy own goal it was never in the bag. Cisse chipped in with his traditional 25-yard tap-in, but it was a pretty decent, all-round effort, although the goals conceded were stoppable.

Never mind, two more wins I reckon and we hang on to the Premiership teat for another season.

Congratulations to the club in their efforts to integrate the French lads into North East life, and encouraging supporters to 'go French' for the afternoon.

In that spirit I had intended burning a lorry load of sheep in the Haymarket, and flouting the smoking ban in the ground.

But, pernicious health and safety laws prevailed, so I've compromised by taking a mistress, and having afternoons off work.

Mind you, whilst appreciating these efforts, and celebrating Cisse's goals with gusto, the chances of me trying goat curry are on par with Danny Dyer turning up at the Oscars with his fingers crossed.

Much has been said about the effect of the Europa League on Premier League performances, most of it negative, but I would like to see Pardew publicly challenge the players to defy the statistics.

After all, statistics can be crafted to suit any cause. After all, I can prove statistically that I've had the same amount of dates with Cameron Diaz as Jude Law.

Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose, as they apparently say in Scotswood nowadays.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Feb 25, 2013
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