Apparently a game of football took place, but in it nothing happened, which will satisfy Newcastle more than Anzhi
Let's leave it at that, eh. I'm going to disinfect my soul in advance of Spurs-Inter - why not join me for that one, presently. (You don't have to answer, I know why not - but it was an instruction.)
90+3 min There's a Hebrew word, bizayon. Roughly, it means desecration, but it's more intense than that. This game is a bizayon of bizayonot.
90 min There shall be three additional minutes of rampant, devastating, attacking tedium.
90 min Logashov replaces Yeschenko. I'm going to have a shower when this is done, and then I'm going to the mikveh.
88 min Peter Drury reckons Anzhi might be worse away from home. That'd be something to see - I'm not sure we've the superlatives to cope. Is worsest a word?
86 min Oi, Something! You yes, you! I dare you to happen. I double dare you, etcetera.
85 min Guardian's name of the match: Jucilei. Football: see what you've reduced me to?
84 min Tiote comes on for Cabaye, and velcros the armband around his bicep - another one for the highlights.
83 min Apparently, a lot of shouts of "well done" are coming from the Newcastle bench. I can only conclude that they're ordering dinner for a bunch of philistines.
81 min Sissoko takes the ball around halfway, back to goal, and skips over and around it, into a turn, before directing a pass towards Ameobi, outside and ahead of him. It comes to nothing, but Newcastle are at least threatening to threaten now, Obertan escaping down the left and driving a low cross that was cleared with comparative difficulty.
79 min Newcastle win a corner on the left, which Marveaux sarcastically hits straight to a defender.
77 min Like curtain-twitching neighbours, we've no option but to despise the good fortune of others. Steaua have scored against Chelsea, the ball striking the netting and everything. Some people even smiled, I believe.
76 min Taylor comes on, Anita goes off. That'll improve matters. Anyway, he goes to centre-back and Perch finesses into the middle of midfield.
75 min Shatov! comes in off the left touchline and with Obertan squared up, elects not to take him on, instead coming inside and shooting against his leg.
73 min Is Sylvain's Marveaux's dressing room nickname Marcel? It's not, is it, it's Marveauxy or Marz. He knocks the ball forward to Anita, who, from a central position thirty or so yards out, hammers a shot that's less speculative than it looked. It'll make the highlights.
71 min Traore, owner of football's most popular surname, finds some space and sends a pass wide to Shatov! He does nothing with it.
70 min Newcastle almost break but don't, Ameobi klutzing his touch. By way of retaliation, Joao Carlos slams a long ball towards Traore, and with Newcastle's defenders having stepped up, for a second it looks like he's clear - but Elliot is out sharply to kick clear.
68 min I know Zhirkov is an old classic, but did you know that he changed his name in tribute to a Malibu Police Chief?
66 min Say what you like about Anzhi, but they have an exceptional roster of names. Yeschenko, for example, in whose honour Diego "The Dream" Sanchez invented the Yes Cartwheel.
64 min Ben Arfa departs, replaced by Ameobi and his joints. I'm more concerned for his soul.
63 min Birthday Arfa misses the best chance of the game! Newcastle, on the break, manage a couple of passes, the second of which sends him in on goal in the inside-right position. He draws the keeper, who goes down early, and lifts a chip above him - but Gabulov does well to reach up and claw away.
61 min Two things happen! First, a cross is headed away to Eto'o on the left edge of the box. He controls, hops inside, and thumps a low fizzer to Elliot's right - and with the ball going through a set of legs, it's a real;ly good save that tips it around the post. Then, when the corner is headed away, Shatov collects the loose ball outside the box, flicks it up, and thumps a second shot wide.
60 min It's back to the lecture theatre, and Matthew Loten: "I'm studying Japanese language - don't ask why - so they lump us in all manner of thrilling classes. It did mean I tipped Kagawa for the top a few years back, when he first burst on the scene. Feeling quite vindicated after last weekend. Now if we can just get Honda out of Russia... Sorry to diverge from the game at hand, but it doesn't sound like I'm missing much."
Honda is in Russia? Must be visiting Zangief.
58 min Zhirkov crosses and Simpson turns his back, in a mixture of shame and disgust, only for the ball to flick his far arm, which is by his side. There ensue appeals for a penalty, but just for something to do.
57 min Yeschenko finds a couple of yards on the right, then loses them again, and various poor deliveries are met with various poor clearances until Simpson welts one downfield.
55 min It's impossible to hear the name Anita without picturing this fine young lady, right? And no snide comments about nappy rash, or else. We had something.
53 min Jim Beglin runs through a list of players "vulnerable to substitution," and suddenly it all becomes clear. But surely there's even less to be said for proximity to Pardew? Even Pluto isn't that cold.
52 min Anita passes it three yards and square.
50 min Anzhi are at least intimating interest this half, but we've all seen that before - and cried ourselves to sleep every night for a decade.
49 min Traore shoots, Perch blocks, and Drury growls.
47 min Philosophy corner: is it better to have football during work hours, thus lessening its pain, or is it better to keep it to afterwards, allowing for a purity of suffering and (prospective) pleasure?
46 min The camera zooms in on Gabriel Obertan, in a bid to present something out of the ordinary. He's a funny one, him - has some ability, yet appears to have nothing upstairs, which is particularly curious, given it's roomy nature. It attracts mansion tax, apparently.
46 min And off it goes again, whatever it is.
"Evening Daniel" embalms Matthew Loten. "I'm missing the game, stuck in a lecture about Japanese tourism, but I'm following the mbm in hopes of updates about my team's (Pompey) greatest ever player, Lassana Diarra. Unfortunately his name hasn't made an appearance since the team sheet announcement - am I to assume he's not having a barnstormer?
Japanese tourism? What on earth are you studying? And no, Diarra has done as nothing as all the others. He needs to be playing for Milan, really.
Imagine if everyone decided enough was enough. Specifically and generally.
BUT - and what a BUT this is - here's your half-time advert of sorts. It's only Lindisfarne playing the Newky Broon jingle!
A summary of the first half:
45 min There shall be one additional minute of vacuum and void.
45 min Anzhi almost construct an attack, but don't. The centre-spot has been easily the first half's outstanding performer.
45 min Haidara botches a cross and cries out in agony. I'm doing the same.
43 min Perch finds Cabaye, who sends a long, aerial pass out to Ben Arfa on the right touchline. He doesn't reach it. Obviously. No one is ever going to reach anything again. There is a worldwide ban on reaching. To reach is an ex-verb.
41 min Arthur Virgo points out that given the absence of Ameobi, Traore is a full six inches taller than any Newcastle player. I wonder how we're all imagining displaying that graphically.
40 min As I type that, almost an event, Eto'o finding some space thirty yards from goal, dropping a shoulder despite being alone and whacking a shot at goal - but it was straight at Elliot and dipped to a convenient height as it arrived at his hands.
39 min Credit to the players here, for producing an exceptionally dry half of association football.
35 min "Newcastle are playing without a striker," explains Todd A MacGregor, "just like they have been this entire season when Papiss Cisse is in the XI. He hasn’t just gone off the boil, he is ice cold. Given Newcastle’s midfield talent, they really need a killing point of the attack and it just hasn’t been there. So this 4-6-0 plan is pretty fair thinking by Pardew."
It also turns out that Ameobi's joints won't handle the strain of two games in quick succession, which is why he's not starting. As for Cisse, it would've been silly to expect him to be as lively as he was last season, simply because that would make him up there with the best in the world, which he isn't. But given a run, and some decent service, I reckon we'll see him improve.
33 min Ahmedov, on the right touchline, draws Haidara in and pads the ball around his right side, accelerating by on the left to collect. Haidara has no choice but to intervene, dragging him back and down to earn a booking.
32 min Another burst from Eto'o wriggling at quite some pace through centrefield and seeking Traore with flicked through-pass. But though he'd done a good job of foxing Anita, he'd also roamed offside, and the linesman noticed.
31 min It's hardly revelatory to announce the weirdness of the internet, but: the internet is weird. Here's a video tribute to Samuel Eto'o's family.
28 min Traore, who is 6"8, tickles Cabaye to the 3G, and from the free-kick, Newcastle win a corner, which they inexplicably choose to take short, and explicably waste. This allows Eto'o to break, and he races over halfway as Haidara comes across, the attempted flick past him grazing an unextended arm. Eto'o wants a free-kick, as you'd expect, but isn't given one.
26 min Just when I was beginning to wonder, up parps Simon McMahon with some #epicbantz. "Ryan Dunne's not fooling anyone. The only reason he'd leave the MBM is if he had a HOT DATE!!! C'mon Ryan, who's the (un)lucky lady?"
Given that the MBM constitutes his autobiography, I'd be amazed if he were lying.
25 min It's been a while since Newcastle mustered any kind of attack, and given the way they're playing, it appears odd that Ameobi, who holds the ball up well, isn't playing. But who are we to second-guess the maestro?
24 min "Does it burn, Jim," inquires Peter Drury. I'll leave it there, for those still at work who might just have visited The Usual Place.
23 min Willian, who accidentally toe-poked the turf in a tackle with Yanga-Mbiwa a moment ago, can't carry on. Traore replaces him.
22 min Anzhi knock the ball backwards and forwards before finally attempting an actual thing - and Ahmedov is offside.
21 min Christopher Samba, £12m. That's 1,200,000,000 cola bottles. Which would you rather have?
18 min All this talk of nipple-wrinkle has me hot under the collar, and here's Ryan Dunne to capitalise. " (Yiddish for) Hawrite, Dazzle Hazzle! I've still to listen to today's Fitba Weekly podcast, so I probably won't stay for the whole MBM," he public service broadcasts, "but here's a swift email so you don't feel underappreciated. Mad props for the references to Nas and Pink Floyd. Great to see some *good* musical taste on an MBM, in contrast to the usual guardianista hipster bashing of U2, greatest ever band and surely the Glorious Glasgow Rangers of music!"
U2 and Glasgow Rangers, I can see it. It's a matter of time until you hear Bono wailing "we are the people". Referring, of course, to Bono.
16 min Back on Twitter, @dcb72 is discussing a topless Vladimir Putin - he could be Russia's first Pravda Three man.
14 min First location of space, Shatov racing down the left, accepting Willian's pass and squaring towards where he hoped he might be. He was noy, but Yanga-Mbiwa was, and he cleared.
12 min There's a dull thud in the stadium - presumably the chairman still belly laughing at the 12 million greenbacks he conned out of QPR for Christopher Samba.
10 min Newcastle will be satisfied with how this has gone so far. Anzhi haven't been able to work up the bronca with which home sides can sometimes overwhelm their visitors in Europe, and all is sedate.
8 min Scary coincidences and the paranormal: @dcb72 on Twitter says that Newcastle's away support comprises ... wait for it ... none other than 72 folk. Meanwhile, Willian takes a pass from Yeschenko in his stride and inside the area on its right-hand side, and when he might have shot, decides to attempt a backheel for Eto'o, giving Cabaye the chance to clear.
7 min Yanga-Mbiwa drags back Eto'o, and well and truly looked at for his trouble. The resultant free-kick, from left of centre and perhaps 35 yards from goal, is useless.
5 min Newcastle are dropping fairly deep when Anzhi have the ball, and likewise, Anzhi aren't really pressuring the Newcastle defenders when they're in possession, which is a little odd. Though Pardew insisted that the surface won't trouble his players, Perch is hardly a ball-player at the best of times.
3 min I lasted three minutes of Luzhniki behaviour. I think that's laudable.
2 min Obertan has already has to lanks down the line, the second one ending with a cross aimed at Ben Arfa, that Ewerton headed away.
1 min Curiously, the plastic looks worn in the middle. Obertan is on the left for Newcastle and Marveaux is on the right.
1 min Newcastle are go! Whatever happened to the three man kick-off?
For those watching in silent offices, commentary comes courtesy of Peter Parity! Drury.
Worries: Gareth Southgate and Les Ferdinand hope that the Frenchmen in the dressing room don't get clicky. They'll have to go some to match the headmaster of my primary school, who did the loudest clicks in the world. He once threw me off a chair for not wanting to eat my lunch. And also locked my in a cupboard.
Anyway, the players are coming out and atmosphere is building, thus it's time for a break.
"This draw, if we went out here, it would be no shame on us." Pardew, getting his retaliation in first. Guus Hiddink, meanwhile, has lunched, and somehow tanned well through the Russian winter.
Reasons to be cheerful: it's very cold in Moscow. Sorry, I know that's reason singular, but at least I tried.
Anzhi play on an artificial, plastic surface. How very apt.
Sorry, I've still not quite deduced what the blithering blither is taking place with that Newcastle line-up - apparently, Sissoko will play up-front with Ben Arfa behind him. It's Ben Arfa's birthday today, so assuming he's following in the changing room - and let's face it, even this has to be better than listening to Pardew list the dimensions of his magnificence - Hatem, this is for you. Well, you and the 9,406,970 people who've watched it.
Let's just leave that to marinate, eh? Anything Levein can do, Pards can do better.
Teams are here:
Anzhi Makhachkala: Gabulov, Yeschenko, Joao Carlos, Ewerton, Zhirkov, Jucilei, Diarra, Ahmedov, Willian, Shatov, Eto'o.
Subs: Pomazan, Gadzhibekov, Tagirbekov, Logashov, Carcela-Gonzalez, Traore, Smolov.
Newcastle: Elliot, Simpson, Yanga-Mbiwa, Perch, Haidara, Obertan, Cabaye, Anita, Sissoko, Marveaux, Ben Arfa.
Subs: Alnwick, Santon, Bigirimana, Tiote, Steven Taylor, Ameobi, Campbell.
Potential recipient of tabloid xenophobia: Istvan Vad (a country called Hungary)
Preamble Time. Oh, time, illmatic, unstoppable, eternal time, moments that make up a lifetime of dull days. The single most significant hang-up of mankind's miserable existence of significant hang-ups; how to spend it, the horror of not liking it and the terror of it ending all inspire the kind of angst that inspires preambles like this.
Take Newcastle, for example, where they've wasted almost an entire season of the precious ticking stuff. Where if they'd skipped from August to February, no one would have noticed, the memory of 2012-13 is but a rumour. Ritzis, Fimbi's, Circus Circus and even the Tup Tup Palace, deserted shells, victims of the most alarming glitch in the time-space continuum since Gray's Sports Almanac swapped places with Ooh La La. Take Newcastle, for example.
And yet! And yet, and yet, and yet: here they are, by some peculiar twist of moment shift and accidental accident, here they are, about to begin a winnable tie in the last sixteen of a competition lacking any obvious favourites. Redemption beckons.