Titus Bramble recovered from a nightmare start to emerge as Newcastle United's unlikely UEFA Cup hero with a second-half winner over FK Ventspils in the Latvian capital last night.
Bramble could easily have been cast as the Magpies' villain after Igors Slesarcuks skated past him with just five minutes on the clock and forced an outstanding onehanded save from Shay Given.
Or when he was left rooted to the turf as Vladimirs Kolesnicenko rose between him and team-mate Celestine Babayaro to fire a 17th-minute header inches wide.
But at a point when Vent-spils were still capable of causing maximum embarrassment to Glenn Roeder's men, Bramble leapt to meet Emre's corner with a powerful goal-bound header in the 70th minute.
That will surely be enough to see the Magpies past the Latvian league leaders in the second leg of this second qualifying round tie back at St James' Park in a fortnight's time.
The Gretna bandwagon finally hit the buffers when a 5-1 defeat the hands of Derry City surely ended their dreams of booking a place in the first round proper.
It had all started so well for the tiny Scottish Borders outfit when Ryan McGuffie handed them the lead early in the game at Motherwell's Fir Park, before Darren Kelly levelled the scores.
Kevin Deery and Ciaran Martyn then helped themselves to a double each to effecitvely end Gretna's European adventure before they had even managed to leave the country.
Brazilian Bechara Oliveira punctured Llanelli's hopes of another UEFA Cup fairytale in the land of Hans Christian Andersen after losing 1-0 to Odense.
Llanelli, who had eliminated Swedish side Gefle in the last round, will still hold dreams of meeting Tottenham, West Ham or Newcastle going into their second qualifying return on August 24.
But in truth all ambition should have died near the North Sea, with Oliveira, Morten Fevang and Ulrik Laursen guilty of misses either side of the break against the Welsh side, who included 40-year-old former Birmingham City star Andy Legg.