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Newcastle’s first UEFA Champions League game in 20 years ended with a hard-fought draw on Tuesday evening at San Siro against a dominant AC Milan side. The hosts created much the better chances but failed to convert as the matchday one fixture in the so-called “group of death” ended goalless.
AC Milan vs Newcastle: Timeline
13’ – Nick Pope is required to make two saves in the space of a minute, first denying Tommaso Pogeba from long range before blocking Samu Chukwueze’s far post header.
20’ – Theo Hernandez is unmarked in the penalty area from a Milan corner but his header is well saved by Pope.
33’ – A brilliant break from Rafael Leao sees the 24 year old glide into the heart of the Newcastle penalty area, only to lose his footing in comical fashion at the crucial moment.
74’ – Substitute Alessandro Florenzi provides the perfect cross into the box but Rafael Leao is wayward with a great headed opportunity.
90 + 5’ – In the final minute of Stoppage Time, Newcastle have their first shot on target as Sean Longstaff’s drive is tipped over by substitute goalkeeper Marco Sportiello.
The Big Stat
Wasteful Milan let Toon off the hook
Milan had 25 attempts on goal in Tuesday’s game but couldn’t find a way past Nick Pope. It was one way traffic at times and Newcastle will certainly be the happier team to leave with a point.
Rafael Leao really took on the entire Newcastle defense, got right in front of goal and tried a backheel flick 😭
The match finished scoreless despite AC Milan having 25 shots to Newcastle's six! pic.twitter.com/UEmOmWqppq
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) September 19, 2023
AC Milan vs Newcastle player ratings: Star Man
Nick Pope (Newcastle) – 9.20
It was a busy night for the Newcastle goalkeeper who was required to make eight saves across the 90 minutes to keep Milan at bay.
The hosts could easily have been two or three goals up inside the opening half hour were it not for some sharp stops from the Englishman who remained composed throughout and frequently got his side out of trouble.
AC Milan vs Newcastle player ratings: Hosts fail to make dominance count
Milan enjoyed an impressive run to the Semi-Finals of last year’s competition and their extra European experience was telling at times as they controlled game. Four different home players managed three or more shots on goal but none could find a way past Pope who was aided by some important blocks in the Second Half.
AC Milan player ratings
Mike Maignan 6/10 – Didn’t need to make a single save before going off with an 80th minute injury.
Theo Hernandez 7/10 – A threat throughout the First Half but faded after the break.
Fikayo Tomori 7/10 – Composed on the ball and defended well when called upon.
Malick Thiaw 7/10 – Dealt well with Newcastle’s forwards.
Davide Calabria 7/10 – A combative First Half display from the Milan captain but a 40th minute booking contributes to his replacement at the break.
Tommaso Pobega 6/10 – Not heavily involved and replaced after an hour.
Rade Krunic 7/10 – Anchored the midfield well. Helped ensure it was a quiet night for the Milan defence.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek 7/10 – Lots of excellent breaks forwards but lacked composure when entering the danger area.
Rafael Leao 7/10 – Carried the ball brilliantly at times, but guilty of fluffing his lines when it mattered most.
Olivier Giroud 6/10 – Not the Frenchman’s best night with a couple of spurned opportunities.
Samuel Chukwueze 8/10 – An impressive hour on his first start for Milan.
Alessandro Florenzi (sub) 8/10 – A real threat on the right after his introduction.
Christian Pulisic (sub) 6/10 – A bit wasteful at times with his final ball.
Tijani Reijnders (sub) 7/10 – Went close soon after his introduction with a winding run and shot that was comfortably saved by Pope.
Yunus Musah (sub) 7/10 – Brought energy into the game as Milan pushed for a winner late on.
Marco Sportiello (sub) 7/10 – A key late save to deny Longstaff.
Newcastle defend deep and hold firm
It was by no means the best performance that we’ve seen from Eddie Howe’s team. They offered precious little attacking threat and were dependent on some key saves and blocks to keep the scoreline level. However they’ll be happy to return to Tyneside with a point and will fancy their chances of putting wins on the board at what sure’s to be a cauldron of an atmosphere at St James’ Park later in this group.
Newcastle player ratings
Nick Pope 9/10 – Some key saves to earn his side a potentially vital point.
Dan Burn 8/10 – A difficult first 20 minutes up against Chukwueze, but lots of important defensive contributions after that.
Sven Botman 7/10 – A testing evening for Botman who was afforded little protection by his midfield.
Fabian Schar 7/10 – Some important defensive contributions.
Kieran Trippier 7/10 – Didn’t carry his usual attacking threat but held firm defensively with a key block in the Second Half.
Sandro Tonali 5/10 – A very warm welcome on his return to San Siro, but he struggled to impose himself on the game.
Bruno Guimaraes 5/10 – One of the Brazilian’s quietest games in a Newcastle shirt.
Sean Longstaff 6/10 – A tough night for Longstaff, but he never stopped running and was the closest visiting player to a goal.
Anthony Gordon 5/10 – Limited impact from the former Everton man.
Alexander Isak 6/10 – Had to drop deep to get involved in the game but never seriously threatened.
Jacob Murphy 6/10 – Two wayward attempts on goal, but an important First Half clearance off the line kept things level.
Callum Wilson (sub) 6/10 – Saw very little of the ball in the final thirty minutes as Newcastle defended deep.
Miguel Almiron (sub) 6/10 – One lively break after his introduction but the Paraguayan couldn’t get past Tomori.
Elliot Anderson (sub) N/A
Harvey Barnes (sub) N/A
The Final Word
It’s a point apiece and we are none the wiser as to knowing who might progress from a group that was always going to be fiercely competitive. Milan will unquestionably be disappointed not to have won the game and they may now need to spring a surprise at some point on the road if they are to progress.
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