Nobby looks to the future - 21/03/2003
Nolberto Solano saw his big pal Juan Riquelme and Barcelona come out on top at St James's Park - then insisted Newcastle United would be back stronger next season.
Solano and Riquelme - whose free kick was converted by Thiago Motta for Barca's second goal - were team-mates at Boca Juniors in Argentina and the pair spoke before and after the game.
And Riquelme showed just why the Catalans paid £7 million for him last summer with a hugely impressive performance up front alongside goalscorer Patrick Kluivert.
"I played with Juan at Boca and we are good friends," said Solano. "I spoke to him before the game and said `please take it easy' but we knew they have to do a job as they're professionals.
"And afterwards he said he liked the club. He said it's a very nice ground and says they are nice people here."
Like most of United's players, Solano made his Champions League debut this season and he believes each and every one of them has learnt from the campaign.
And he insists the challenge now for Newcastle is to make sure of a place next year so the lessons that have been learnt over the qualifying and two group stages can be put into practice.
"We're disappointed, more for the fans," said Solano. "The two goals were too easy for Barcelona.
"Barcelona have very good players. They were clever at the back and when we heard that Inter were winning 1-0 in the first half, it was very difficult.
"It was a hard game. We created a lot of chances, especially in the first half. Craig Bellamy had two or three chances.
"We know they are a very good side. They keep the ball. But we're learning and we hope we can qualify for the Champions League next season.
"It was the first time for many of us in this competition. We did quite well and if we qualify for next season, we will do much better."
Newcastle Evening Chronicle
What is your opinion about this article?
Start a new topic at our forum!