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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 11 March, 2003, 21:36 GMT
Inter hold brave Newcastle
Shearer opens the scoring
Inter Milan 2-2 Newcastle

Newcastle's Champions League adventure is still alive - but only just after a thrilling 2-2 against Inter Milan at the San Siro.

Alan Shearer, following his hat-trick against Bayer Leverkusen in the Magpies previous European match, twice gave Newcastle the lead.

But goals from the irrepressible Christian Vieri and Ivan Cordoba ensured that the Italian team remain in the best position to emulate Barcelona and qualify from Group A.

5 mins: Solano's drives thunders off the crossbar
42 mins: Shearer opens the scoring
47 mins: Vieri equalises for Inter
49 mins: Shearer restores Newcastle's lead
61 mins: Cordoba equalises for Inter

If Inter win their final game against woeful Leverkusen next week they will qualify - and in doing so end Newcastle's courageous European adventure.

Sir Bobby Robson's team play Barcelona at home in their final game and may now be left ruing the awful start they made to the group, when they lost their opening two games before the winter break.

Newcastle's task at the San Siro almost got off to an awful start.

Newcastle are out if Inter beat Leverkusen
Newcastle are out if they lose to Barcelona
If Newcastle and Inter both draw, Newcastle are out
If Inter draw and Newcastle win, Newcastle go through
If Newcastle draw and Inter lose by three clear goals, Newcastle go through

Andy O'Brien was dispossessed by Vieri inside the opening minute but Emre could not punish the Newcastle defender for his lackadaisical start and blazed over with his shot.

Newcastle, with Craig Bellamy restored to the side after his three-match suspension, also underlined their attacking credentials during a breathtaking opening phase.

Nolberto Solano hit a drive of thunderous speed against the crossbar, which rebounded against Francesco Toldo's outstretched hand and fortuitously went out for a corner.

Solano, only in the side after Kieron Dyer failed a fitness test, again went close after 19 minutes but Toldo, this time intentionally, was able to fend his strike away.

Bellamy, Jermaine Jenas and Laurent Robert went close for Newcastle and Inter duo Javier Zanetti and Fabio Cannavaro also creating openings as chances continued to materialise at both ends.

All the while a series of niggling challenges threatened to disrupt the rhythm of the match, but Newcastle - unlike in the previous encounter at St James' Park - kept their discipline and were rewarded with a goal.

We've just got to learn to defend a little bit better away from home at this level
Newcastle boss Sir Bobby Robson
Bellamy broke down the right and knocked an inviting low ball across the face of goal that Shearer converted from three yards just minute before the break.

Inter restored parity within two minutes of the restart.

O'Brien and Gary Speed failed to clear Sergio Conceicao's teasing cross from the right and Vieri headed home for his first Champions League goal of the season.

But Newcastle needed just two minutes to restore their lead.

Toldo flapped at Robert's cross from deep and Shearer stabbed the rebound home.

Vieri then forced a good save from Shay Given before Cordoba equalised again for Inter.

The Colombian defender rose above Gary Speed to head a deep free-kick into the Newcastle net.

Both teams continued to push for a dramatic winner but Speed was foiled by Toldo and Inter played out time to secure a crucial point.

Inter Milan: Toldo, Cordoba, Javier Zanetti, Emre (Pasquale 77), Sergio Conceicao, Guglielminpietro (Martins 46), Cannavaro, Di Biagio, Okan, Vieri, Coco.
Subs Not Used: Fontana, Gamarra, Vivas, Franchini, Napolitano.

Booked: Sergio Conceicao, Vieri, Di Biagio.

Newcastle: Given, Bernard, O'Brien (Hughes 59), Griffin, Bramble, Jenas, Solano (LuaLua 83), Speed, Bellamy, Shearer, Robert (Viana 83).
Subs Not Used: Harper, Ameobi, Kerr, Caldwell.

Booked: Bramble, Bellamy, Shearer, LuaLua.

Attendance: 53,459

Referee: Lucilio Cardoso Cortez Batista (Portugal).

BBC Five Live's Steve Wilson
"A marvellous display by Newcastle"

Newcastle captain Alan Shearer
"We can hold our heads high"


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