Sleepless Newcastle ace Rob Elliot has no Moscow nightmare

KEEPER'S BALL ... Anzhi's Joao Carlos, top right, and Newcastle's goalkeeper Rob Elliot compete for the ball.
KEEPER'S BALL ... Anzhi's Joao Carlos, top right, and Newcastle's goalkeeper Rob Elliot compete for the ball.

ROB Elliot endured a sleepless night before Newcastle United’s Europa League tie against Anzhi Makhachkala.

But the goalkeeper didn’t have a nightmare at the Luzhniki Stadium last night.

Elliot denied striker Samuel Eto’o with two superb saves in the goalless draw.

And those first-leg stops have seemingly swung the two-legged Round of 16 tie – the return is at St James’s Park in six days time – in Newcastle’s favour.

However, the 26-year-old admits he was concerned about the artificial surface, balls and temperature after training at the ground the night before the game.

“The lads were taking free-kicks and shots at me, and the balls were moving all over the place,” Elliot said.

“I didn’t sleep well the night before the game because I was concerned over the way the balls move.

“I don’t know if it was the balls, the cold air or the AstroTurf, but there was something about them.

“The balls aren’t the best, but it’s part and parcel of being a keeper.”

Elliot stopped a shot in each half from Cameroon striker Eto’o, the highest-paid player in the world.

He tipped a shot from distance over the bar before the break, and turned another around his post in the second-half.

“Eto’o’s first shot came at me and dipped down, and I managed to get enough of it,” he said.

“I wasn’t in full control, but my job is to keep the ball out of the net and I did.

“The second one I didn’t think I wasn’t going to get there. Maybe the surface helped.

“If they’d have scored it might have opened the game up, but I’m pleased to make a contribution.

“We limited them to long range efforts.

(James) Perch and Simmo (Danny Simpson) put in some fantastic blocks. The overall performance was good, and we tried to keep possession. In terms of chances on goal we didn’t get many, but we were looking OK with some dangerous attacks possession-wise.

“To come to a place like this with the stars they’ve got and get a result is brilliant.”

However, there will be no complacency in the United camp ahead of the second leg given the quality in Guus Hiddink’s team.

“You can’t deny their quality individually and as a team,” added Elliot.

“They’ve never lost a game here. We talked about getting an away goal, and a clean sheet, but going back to St James’s Park, we’ll take 0-0 all day long.”