Newcastle looked dangerous on the break and took the lead in the first half, but mistakes after the break cost them
Peep! It's all over. Newcastle will rue their errors as they looked dangerous on the break. Alan Pardew will have some choice words for Santon and Sissoko. Their mistakes cost them. That's not to say Benfica didn't deserve to edge the match. They have attacking flair in spades and Newcastle will have the unenviable task of nullifying this at St James' while having to be gung-ho themselves. Thanks for your emails. I'll get back to subbing that horse racing copy now. Goodnight.
90+2 min: Cabaye clatters into Garay. His elbow cracks his opponent on the cheek and he's lucky not to be given a yellow card. A bit nasty that.
90 min: Newcastle win a free-kick on the halfway line after some comedic attempts to clear the ball by Mbiwa. It's hoiked forwards towards Ameobi, just not close enough to him, though, and Benfica clear. It's all pretty quiet at the Stadium of Light.
88 min: Benfica are a slick team but they have had enough nervy moments at the back to give Newcastle hope that they could score a couple of goals against them at St James'. However, their goals have come as a result of two errors. They also look like a team who score when they are in control. They may not find control easy at St James' though.
86 min: Gaitan is pushed by Ameobi as the big man tries to turn away after his opponent wins possession, but the little Benfica playmaker makes a meal of it and throws himself to the floor shamefully, really. Ameobi is booked, the poor fella.
84 min: This is petering out. Benfica seem happy with their 3-1. As do Newcastle, strangely.
80 min: Shola Ameobi is on for Marveaux. He's 31. How did that happen? Meanwhile, Gaitan has two stabs at a shot which are blocked on both occasions by Krul. It would have finished off a tidy move.
78 min: Benfica play it short again, with Gaitan picking it up and swinging a deep ball towards Maxi Pereira at the back post. He heads it into the sidenetting when he should have donked it back across goal.
77 min: Benfica sub: Cardozo off and Maxi Pereira on. Gaitan will move central now I think, just behind Lima. Pereira wins a corner with his first act.
75 min: As bad as Santon's backpass was for Benfica's second, Sissoko's none-header that led to the Taylor handball was just as inexplicable. How he didn't deal with it I don't know.
73 min: "So Gregg, how come you got roped into an MBM tonight? Doesn't seem like it was part of your original plan. Let me guess, you were about to head home, throw on some Kenny G and take a bath?" asks Simon McMahon. As much as I'd like to imagine my life as a Kenny G-loving bathtaking carefree Guardian hack, I was simply not told I was doing said MBM. Communication in Guardian Towers is solely done with our readers. Between hacks there is only dead air.
Cardozo blasts it down the middle but … hang on, the referee pulls him back and says someone encroached on the penalty area. At the second time of asking he is as nerveless as a Terminator, but a lot more skilful, as he curls the ball into the left corner just beyond Krul's outstretched right hand.
68 min: Well this has gone from bad to worse for Newcastle. The penalty has been given against Taylor for a handball in the box. It was a clear handball given by the goalline referee. Yes, he did something! Sissoko inexplicably ducked a header and Taylor could not get out of the way. Still a penalty though.
Oh dear! Santon is put under pressure in possession on the left touchline, he turns and plays a backpass to Krul but fails to see Lima in his path. The Benfica forward says 'Thank You Very Much' and skips past Krul before finishing a very missable chance from a narrow angle 15 yards from goal on the right. Poor old Santon. Nice work from Lima to finish his gift off, mind.
63 min: Gaitain tries to beat Sissoko to the byline to whip in one of those dangerous crosses, but the Newcastle midfielder is a rock – a fast rock (weird, I know, perhaps it's rolling down a hill) – and defends diligently to concede a corner. Gaitain's corner is swung in but dealt with by Newcastle.
62 min: I'm a bit surprised by those Benfica changes. I've been impressed by both tonight.
61 min: Some housekeeping. Newcastle sub: Perch off, Anita on. Perch appeared to have picked up an injury. For Benfica: Rodrigo off and Lima on. And Gomes off and Perez on.
58 min: Gaitan has got a lovely left foot. Reminds me of another lovely Portuguese player, Simao. He could use his left and right feet, mind. Anyway, his deliveries in from the left are causing all kinds of problems in the Newcastle defence.
56 min: Cardozo ought to have put Benfica in front. He checked his run as he came into the box to run on to a square ball from Rodrigo, who had just showed Yanga-Mbiwa a clean pair of Nike Tiempos (or whatever the kids are wearing these days). The result is that with Krul stranded, Cardozo sliced his effort hopelessly wide from 12 yards out.
54 min: The corner is worked back to Matic on the edge of the box, but the former Chelsea man somehow manages to connect better with an invisible ball instead of the real one, which he hoiks a foot up in the air like a bad golf shot. It's not clear on replays whether he was fouled by Cabaye. He didn't appear to be.
52 min: Gaitan pulls wide left for Benfica and plays a deep ball in to the backpost. Guttierez clears for a corner.
51 min: Newcastle are keeping possession intelligently in deep areas and playing very much like the home team. Haven't Benfica learnt anything from that first half?
49 min: Gomes has a thrash for Benfica but it's a wild, ugly effort from range that ends up in the Stadium of Light's cheap seats, if indeed they are cheap (it's not full so perhaps they're as ridiculously expensive as in England).
47 min: Well, this half as begun just like the first. Guttierez drives a pass up to Cissé, who cushions a header down to Marveaux. He takes one touch and delivers a perfectly weighted pass behind Benfica's ridiculously high line (that seems to be a very Portuguese thing) for Cissé to dash on to. Artur Moraes rushes out to narrow the angle and Cissé lifts it over him with his left foot before watching his delicious effort donk off the post before being cleared comfortably.
45 min: Peep! Off we go again.
There don't appear to have been any substitutions. Meanwhile, in the Spurs match I have just been alerted to the fact that Scott Parker missed from here. I'll enjoy watching that later.
A half-time email: "Re 5 mins: I see Gary Naylor as a kind of Highlander figure. There can be only one. For anyone to be the new Naylor would necessitate beheading the great man, and that would leave Guardian live sport blogging a much emptier, less cerebral place. A nightmare view of the future," writes Captain Corduroy. Even without his head I'd back a Naylor email to find its way into an MBM.
And that's your lot. A very entertaining half that started with Newcastle as the dominant force before a role reversal midway through saw Benfica take the initiative and dominate for the remainder. A half of two halves, kind of.
44 min: But Gomes and John do a fine Laurel and Hardy impression. Both running past the ball, before one of them – I don't want to say which in case Joao Andre pulls me up on it – thumps it straight at Cabaye and then out for a throw-in.
42 min: "Pulitzer MBM? Well, botching the characters may be a good way to build a mystery. In your comment of Benfica's 36 min move, you only got Krul right. For Matic, read André Gomes. For Cardozo read Gaitán. For Gaitán read Rodrigo. No need for thank yous, just a fee for the revision work." Joao Andre gets the stick and hits this poor MBMer with it. Benfica win a free-kick 25 yards from goal with Gomes and John standing over it …
40 min: Benfica play a short corner that Newcastle's defenders are only too happy to admire. The ball is whipped in from Cardozo on the right and Gaitan, unmarked, heads straight at Krul from 10 yards. Newcastle are as sloppy now as Benfica were in the first 20 minutes.
38 min: "Tom Bryant, eh? The Kato of MBM commentaries." Simon McMahon has got a joke. And he's not afraid to use it.
36 min: A slick Benfica move almost results in a fine goal. Matic finds Rodrigo, who takes a clever step away from his defender to find space between the halfway line and 18-yard box. He turns sharply and feeds Cardozo on the left, who takes one touch and drills a cross into the box that Gaitan strikes first time with power but straight at Krul. Newcastle need to try and get to half-time all-square.
35 min: Newcastle can't get a kick here.
32 min: Benfica have located the button marked 'Control Football Match' and pressed it. They've finally forced Newcastle to defend deep. They're also pressing the visitors out of possession much more easily than previously.
30 min: Well, well, well. My colleague Tom Bryant writes: "As with Roberto Martinez's treatment of Callum McManaman at Wigan, the thinking was that you should only find out you were MBMing at the last minute to avoid pre-match nerves. Just as long as you don't scythe me down in the office tomorrow with a lunging tackle." I'm not in the office tomorrow Tom, but if I were I'd come at you Tommy Smith style.
27 min: Benfica almost go 2-1 up but for some Krul heroics, jumping hither and thither to stop a couple of well struck shots as Benfica come to life in dramatic fashion. Subediting that horse racing suddenly seems like a breeze.
Well, this came out of nothing. Newcastle failed to clear on the edge of their box. Cardozo takes one touch and strikes a fine effort towards Krul's top right corner. He parries to his left, but Rodrigo is at the races and gets there first to finish low under Krul and give this breathless match another jolt.
23 min: Newcastle almost go 2-0 up but for a fantastic fingertip save from Artur Moraes, who must hate his team-mates right now. It was the result of a pacy run from Guttierez. he played it across the box to Cissé, whose shot is deflected and then tipped on to the post by Artur Moraes, who gathers at the second attempt.
20 min: Newcastle look razor sharp on the break. A hopeless free-kick by Benfica is cleared easily by Pardew's side, who break forwards and scare the living daylights out of Benfica's defence, who have pushed up towards the halfway line and are forced to scramble back and defend their 18-yard box. Successfully, but not at all comfortably.
17 min: Benfica have begun to huff and puff more in midfield. Newcastle's energy has taken them by surprise. It oughtn't to have. Any one who has watched Newcastle will tell you that they are a pretty athletic bunch. And physical too. As Perch displays, by sliding in with a hefty tackle and seeing a yellow card for his trouble.
15 min: Newcastle deserve the lead. They have started unabashed and given Benfica little time to settle. Here's an email: "My best golf (relative term mind) usually pops up when I get to the tee box 3 minutes before my tee time. I think this MBM is going to be Pulitzer-esque," offers the hopeless optimist Seamus Devlin.
What an important goal from Newcastle. And a lovely one too. Danny Simpson plays a perfectly weighted pass in behind Luisao for Sissoko to run on to – and boy does he run. He hits it first-time at pace across the box for Cissé, who is sharper than anyone else, and slams it home from six yards.
9 min: Krul very nearly comes unstuck by a long-range effort from Gaitan after some decent link-up play with Rodrigo, who is finding space between Newcastle's midfield and defence. The shot, hit from 25 yards, dips just as Krul dives to his left but his parry bounces off his gloves and back across him and almost into Cardozo's path. Krul just snaffles it before the Benfica attacker can get there.
7 min: Gomes, a young snip of a lad, has a pop for Benfica from a fair old distance. It doesn't bother Krul, mind. It probably bothered Benfica's manager, however, seeing as Gomes had decent options around him.
5 min: "Simon McMahon, eh? The Ryan Dunne of omnipresent email contributors," offers Captain Corduroy, who may well be the new Gary Naylor, unless the old one is still out there somewhere? Anyway, back on the pitch Benfica have settled into the match and are knocking it around with the kind of authority their club form would suggest they should be (they're unbeaten in the league, as are Porto, in case you were wondering).
2 min: Not a bad start from Newcastle. Cissé is sent rampaging down the right flank by Cabaye. He drives a decent low shot at goal but Artur Moraes gets his body behind it comfortably.
Peep! We're off!
An email: "Evening Gregg. Alan Pardew, eh? The Quincy of football managers," chuckles Simon McMahon.
Another email: "Gregg Bakowski. The Inspector Clouseau of MBM commentaries," waheys Simon McMahon. Is it just me and you tonight Simon?
Plucked fresh off the wires for you reader:
Benfica v Newcastle
Benfica: Artur Moraes, Almeida, Luisao, Garay, Melgarejo, John,
Matic, Gomes, Rodrigo, Cardozo, Gaitan. Subs: Paulo Lopes,
Roderick Miranda, Aimar, Lima, Maxi Pereira, Urreta, Perez.
Newcastle: Krul, Simpson, Steven Taylor, Yanga-Mbiwa, Santon,
Perch, Cabaye, Gutierrez, Sissoko, Marveaux, Cisse. Subs:
Elliot, Williamson, Anita, Gosling, Ameobi, Obertan, Campbell.
Referee: Antony Gautier (France)
Right, so I'll just flick through the channels and see if I can locate the match. Nope, not on Channel Five (David Cameron's smug face). How about ESPN? Nah. ITV1? Hmmm. Ah, ITV4, the perfect channel given the farcical run-in I'll be providing here.
Well in a shambolic start to tonight's coverage I've just found out I'm supposed to be serving up minute-by-minute coverage of this here match. So bear with me here folks …
Gregg will be here from 7.30pm BST with live commentary on Benfica v Newcastle. In the meantime, here are some words of wisdom from Alan Pardew.
As a fairly frequent visitor to Lisbon and someone with friends in the Portuguese capital, Alan Pardew has regarded previous trips to the Estádio da Luz to watch a Benfica side coached by a man named Jesus as almost akin to mini-pilgrimages.
Newcastle United's manager particularly enjoys watching the eagle which sits on the roof, then circles the stands just before kick-off at every home game. "It's a fantastic spectacle," he enthused. "And this ground is a terrific place to watch football."
Standing in the technical area as his team play Jorge Jesus's side in Thursday night's Europa League quarter-final will be a rather different proposition from simply admiring the magnificent statue of Eusébio outside the ground before enjoying the view from the posh seats, though. After winning 20 and drawing four of their Portuguese League fixtures, Benfica sit comfortably, formidably on top of their domestic table.
Happily for Newcastle fans, Pardew is not the type to be easily daunted by their compelling brand of tiki-taka. "There's never a mission impossible in football," he said. "We can get a good result here. And at St James' Park we can beat anybody. It will be difficult but we have no doubt we can beat Benfica at St James'. We overcame a very good Anzhi side, who are just as good as Benfica, in the last round."