Newcastle United have qualified for the knockout stages but they are limping heavily. As if being gently booed off after another underwhelming performance was not bad enough, a hamstring injury suffered by Hatem Ben Arfa threatens to further disrupt an already ailing Premier League campaign.
"I'm delighted we're through but Hatem's hamstring problem will keep him out of Sunday's game at Southampton and probably Wednesday's at Stoke," Alan Pardew said. "The doctor says it isn't a tear though so it shouldn't be too long term."
Newcastle's manager was similarly relieved that the kick on the thigh which forced Papiss Cissé's withdrawal did not do serious damage, leaving the striker with a decent chance of facing Southampton.
Following two successive home defeats, Pardew could have done with an early goal but a combination of Romain Salin parrying Davide Santon's rising shot, Cissé persistently getting caught offside and Marítimo proving somewhat livelier than advertised delayed its arrival until the 23rd minute.
The latest statistics suggest Newcastle have unleashed more long balls than any other Premier League side this season but, whatever their range, Ben Arfa's passes tend to be stellar. So it proved when he cleverly played in the accelerating Sylvain Marveaux before watching his fellow Frenchman slide an angled left-foot shot through Salin's legs. It was Marveaux's first goal for Newcastle and came after a frustrating 18 months on Tyneside during which he has frequently been sidelined by injury.
No one wants to see Ben Arfa on the treatment table so Pardew looked suitably concerned when his prized possession hobbled off clutching a hamstring to be replaced by Demba Ba – who was supposed to have spent the evening resting on the bench.
Ironically Ben Arfa had injured himself while creating a chance for Cissé which the Senegal striker – deployed at the apex of the home side's 4-2-3-1 formation – dispatched into the back of the net only to see that effort rightly ruled out for offside.
The second half had barely begun before Cissé began moving a little awkwardly and was swiftly withdrawn. On came Romain Amalfitano and, suitably encouraged, the visitors from Madeira began zipping the ball around with pace and power as they pushed for an equaliser. Ominously for Pardew, Vurnon Anita, understudying the role usually filled by the injured Yohan Cabaye, looked a distinctly lightweight central midfield presence.
Tim Krul had been largely underemployed but Newcastle's goalkeeper needed to react smartly to repel a swerving shot from Danilo Dias before looking rather relieved when a subsequent drive from the same player flew fractionally wide.
A Marítimo goal was coming and, after collecting possession from his fellow substitute Ruben Brigido and dancing past Steven Taylor, Fidélis beat Krul courtesy of a low shot placed through the keeper's legs from the tightest of angles.
It could have been worse, much worse, for Pardew; in stoppage time Fidélis volleyed inches wide. "We're going to have to be a lot better at Southampton," said Newcastle's manager. "A few players are going to have to step up to the plate."
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