| Alan Shearer dives to head in Newcastle’s first goal against Leverkusen during their Champions League match Thursday. (AFP)
Paris: Alan Shearer’s first hattrick for Newcastle United in over three years fired them to a 3-1 win over last season’s Champions League finalists Bayer Leverkusen and gave the Magpies a real chance of making the last eight.
One of Newcastle manager Bobby Robson’s former clubs, Barcelona, are virtually assured of a place in the last eight after a 0-0 draw away at Inter Milan Wednesday that left them needing just one point from their last two matches.
The draw meant Barca failed to break Ajax’s all-time winning streak in European competition of 11 set in the Cup Winners Cup campaigns of 1986-87 and 87-88.
In what could turn out to be a delicious twist, Barcelona’s match in Newcastle could decide whether it is the English side or Inter who progress with them from group A.
Group B is a far tighter affair after as Roma roused themselves from their slumber and stunned Valencia 3-0 in Spain — captain Francesco Totti getting two — to hand the hosts their first-ever Champions League home defeat.
Ajax’s 0-0 draw at home to Arsenal meant both of them moved up to six points with two matches to play while Valencia — finalists in two of the last three seasons — have five and Roma three.
It was Shearer’s night though as he struck three times in the opening 36 minutes at St James’ Park, two of them headers thanks largely to the terrible defending of Brazilian Cris, who looks a long shot to add to his 11 caps for his country given his last two performances for Leverkusen. Shearer’s third came from the penalty spot.
Despite his 15th career hattrick, Shearer said he was delighted to have at last scored a Champions League goal from open play. (AFP)