Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew hailed keeper Rob Elliot after seeing him mark his European debut with a match-saving display against Maritimo.
The 26-year-old, a summer buy from Charlton last year, was handed just his second appearance for the club a year to the day after his first in a Carling Cup victory at Nottingham Forest, and did
not let his manager down.
Elliot produced two fine first-half saves from Sami and another from the same player 20 minutes from time to preserve his clean sheet as the Magpies claimed a point from their opening Group D
encounter in Madeira.
Pardew said: "Rob has waited a long time - since the Forest game, really - to stake his claim. We know him very well, myself and the goalkeeping coach [Andy Woodman] because of Charlton, and this
is a shot-stopper, this is a great goalkeeper.
"What he did at the start of the game is what he does in training every day.
"He was outstanding, as well as the back four against a really difficult surface and difficult opponents.
"Maritimo are a team who are going to surprise teams here. They are very, very good.
"Taking all that into consideration, I thought a draw was a great result."
Most of Elliot's heroics came during yet another poor start by the Magpies, who were slow out of the blocks at the Estadio dos Barreiros against the side currently lying in fifth place in the
However, they recovered to lay siege to Romain Salin's goal and both Shola Ameobi and Dan Gosling were denied by the woodwork in quick succession.
Ameobi hit the bar after a superb solo run two minutes into the second half, although the home side finished strongly and after Elliot had kept out Sami and substitute Goncalo, Davide Santon
managed to deflect defender Valentin Roberge's injury-time header on to the bar and away.
Pardew said: ''With the injuries we had before this game, I'm hoping that will be the weakest we have been this season, I hope so.
''We have had three or four injuries that have been costly to us. Having said that, the performance of the team was outstanding, I thought.
''A lot of players were playing their first European game on a pitch which I have to say, was of poor standard for both teams.
''But there was a great application and although we had a first 10 minutes where we struggled a little, after that, I thought we were in control of the game and I am a little bit disappointed we
haven't won it with the chances that we had.''
The game briefly erupted into controversy on the stroke of half-time when Gael Bigirimana was booked after fouling Joao Luiz after he failed to return possession to the visitors from a drop-ball.
Pardew said: ''It just got a little bit heated there, we were all angry, their bench and ours. I don't think there's any bad feeling, we shook hands after.''
Maritimo boss Pedro Martins was disappointed not to have claimed the victory he felt his side's performance merited.
Asked if the result was a fair one, he said: ''For the quality of the game, no, but for the opportunities, I think yes.
"I felt we were much better that the opposition in the way we played."