English Premier League club Newcastle United have honoured the memory of two ardent supporters with a convincing 4-0 victory over A-League club Sydney FC in Dunedin tonight.
Manager Alan Pardew and captain Fabricio Coloccini laid wreaths on the Forsyth Barr Stadium seats where Malaysian Airlines crash victims John Alder and Liam Sweeney were meant to be sitting before their tragic deaths in the Ukraine late last week.
Newcastle's players came out of the tunnel wearing warm-up shirts bearing the inscription ''In Memory of Liam and John". A minute's silence was held before kick-off, followed by a a burst of applause in the 28th minute for Sweeney and another in the 63rd minute for Alder.
Pardew told his players, who sported black armbands, to get a result for the two men, who were travelling to New Zealand when their plane was shot down.
''For us it is important that we represent ourselves in the right manner. Especially in the light of losing John and Liam,'' the Newcastle Chronicle reported.
"They were supporters that were travelling out here. We need to get them strong results. That's what John and Liam wanted."
Newcastle fielded only two genuine Geordie products- centreback Steven Taylor and Sunderland signing Jack Colback - in their starting lineup. But two major off-season signings made favourable early impressions with first-half goals after Sydney had passed the ball quite confidently in the opening quarter.
Striker Emmanuel Riviere, signed from French club Monaco, troubled Sydney FC with his pace and touch on his Newcastle debut. Dutch forward Siem de Jong, who joined the Magpies from Ajax Amsterdam, scored the first goal to give him two strikes from two pre-season games.
He grabbed the opportunity in the 19th minute after Sydney goalkeeper Ivan Necevski botched a backpass. The ball got stuck between his feet and fell to a Newcastle player, who set up de Jong, a former Dutch international.
Sydney's defensive resolve dissolved as Riviere snatched the second goal in the 26th minute, sweeping in Yoan Gouffran's right-wing cross.
The EPL team grabbed a third in the 33rd minute when former French international Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa's long-range shot flew past Necevski into the Sydney net after a deflection off defender Sasha Ognenovski.
Pardew rang the changes in the second half with De Jong and Riviere both subbed off. Substitute Adam Armstrong wrapped up Newcastle's win, before a crowd of around 10,000, with an 86th minute goal.
Newcastle United 4 (Siem de Jong, Emmanuel Riviere, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Adam Armstrong) Sydney FC 0. HT:3-0.
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