ALAN Pardew admitted Newcastle United were again far from their best against Maritimo.
It wasn’t the result – or performance – that Pardew had wanted after successive home Premier League defeats.
But he was just relieved the point his team took from last night’s 1-1 draw at St James’s Park was enough to send them into the Europa League’s Round of 32 with a game to spare.
Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur are still to qualify from their groups, and their fate will be decided in the last round of games on December 6.
Newcastle face Bordeaux in their last Group D match, and Pardew will send out a significantly weakened team with the Premier League over-riding priority for the club between now and February, when the knockout stages start.
“We wanted to qualify – so we’ve done the job,” said Pardew.
“You have only got to look at Liverpool, who now have to go to Italy and win to qualify. It’s not easy – I don’t care which group you’re in.
“Maritimo have got pace and power in their team. They haven’t got, perhaps, the consistency that they’d like with those players, but they can produce problems.
“They scored a good goal, and they deserved their point. They had a good attitude to the game.
“We knew the Bordeaux score, of course, and probably that affected us a little bit too.
“In the last 20 minutes of the game, Maritimo had nothing to lose, and we were poor in that period. I’m not going to cloud over that.”
United weren’t helped by the injuries suffered by Hatem Ben Arfa and Papiss Demba Cisse during the gane.
“We didn’t have enough threat up the top of the pitch,” added Pardew.
“We lost Hatem, and then we lost Papiss. We didn’t really have enough pressure up there that could cause them problems.
“They had nothing to lose, so they came on to us, and that was a little bit disappointing, that period.
“But I’m delighted we’re through. It’s very important for us.
“We know that we’re really stretched at the minute, and I thought that showed in that period.”