Sir Bobby Robson was last night praying for a Champions League miracle after his Newcastle side twice threw away the lead to draw with Inter Milan at the San Siro.

A well-taken brace from skipper Alan Shearer rocked the Italians on their own patch, but United's defending once again ultimately let them down.

The Magpies are now targeting victory over Barcelona at St James' Park in seven days' time as they cling to a scintilla of hope that they can scrape through to the quarter-finals.

They need Group A basement side Bayer Leverkusen to deny Inter a win in Germany if the picture is to pan out the way they want.

A Christian Vieri goal just after half-time was a major blow to United after Shearer had handed them an interval lead, and Robson said: "We might have won this game - that goal saved the match for Inter.

"Twice we led and twice we didn't hold on to it.

"We just have to learn to defend better away from home at this level.

"But as long as it is mathematically possible for us to go through, we will always have a chance.

"The advantage is obviously with Inter. If they win their last game they go through even if we win.

"It's disappointing for us because we had to win to give ourselves a real chance. But had this been our first game of this phase, coming here and drawing 2-2 would have been a fabulous result."

Asked if he thought Bayer would do the Geordies a huge favour, Robson added: "On the evidence of what I have seen, the answer is no.

"I don't think Bayer are capable of beating Inter, but I know that I don't know everything about football. Anything can happen, but my feeling is Inter will have too much for Bayer. That is why I am feeling a bit disappointed."

Match referee Lucilio Batista made controversial decisions, not least when he booked Craig Bellamy for diving in the box.

But Robson refused to be drawn into any condemnation of the Portuguese official.

He said: "I wasn't happy with some of the decisions, but it's not going to change the result. There's no point complaining about it, but I thought Craig was very unlucky to get a yellow card. He wasn't looking for a penalty."

Robson also baulked at passing any comment on racist chanting directed towards Titus Bramble and Olivier Bernard from the home fans.

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