MAPOU Yanga-Mbiwa’s shown he can ease the pain of Fabricio Coloccini’s absence, according to Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew.
Pardew felt the defender was “outstanding” in last night’s goalless draw against Anzhi Makhachkala in Moscow.
Yanga-Mbiwa, signed from Montpellier in January, faced Samuel Eto’o and Willian at the Luzhniki Stadium – and came out on top.
Pardew’s defence had to be at its best on a sub-zero night in Russia.
Guus Hiddink’s side dominated the game – but couldn’t find a way past United, who could be without injured captain Coloccini until early May.
And the first-leg result has put the club in a strong position to qualify for the quarter-finals.
“I thought (Mapou) was the outstanding player on the night,” said Pardew, who also praised another of United’s transfer-window signings, left-back Massadio Haidara, pictured.
“He’s so quick over the ground, and strong. He won’t let strikers get it comfortably. He was probably our standout player.
“We’re so much stronger in depth – I think that’s evident. Massadio and Mapou really and truly are pushing for first-team places, and they proved that.
“Rob (Elliot) had to make two good saves, and really and truly, if someone had said that to me before the game, I would have taken that.
“That’s a really good display in the conditions and environment we were in.
“(Sylvain) Marveaux is beginning to push as well, and that’s what you want. You want your best players pushed.”
Pardew – who was without several players for the tie – won’t think about the second-leg until after Sunday’s Premier League home game against out-of-form Stoke City.
“I am hoping our team will be stronger on Thursday in the return, but I have got to get a result against Stoke,” he said.
“I’ve got to get a positive result to give me the freedom to do that. I don’t really want to go to Wigan (on March 17) on the back of a defeat by Stoke.”