A Night to Remember: Newcastle Holds AC Milan in the Champions League Return
Milan vs Newcastle: Echoes of the Past
Two decades have passed since Newcastle’s boots touched the pitch of Europe’s elite in the Champions League. The Magpies’ latest outing mirrored a familiar script. The stage? San Siro. The outcome? A sturdy 0-0 standoff against AC Milan.
Eerily reminiscent of their 2003 escapade against Inter Milan, the black and white brigade managed to neutralise their illustrious opponents. On this midweek night, AC Milan could’ve comfortably outscored their predecessors, but fate intervened.
The Keeper’s Dance: Pope Shines in Milan
When all seemed lost, Nick Pope’s masterful presence between the sticks coupled with Milan’s own misfortunes in front of the goal ensured the Toons left Italy with a point in their pocket. With looming fixtures against the likes of Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund, every point counts.
A Tale of Two Halves
“The stadium’s roaring, and it’s barely at half capacity,” an awestruck Eddie Howe observed pre-match. His squad appeared shaky, absorbing nine shots within the initial 20 minutes. Thankfully, Milan’s ambitions either sailed wide or nestled safely in Pope’s gloves.
Rafael Leao’s failed attempt to test Pope, 30 minutes in, summarised the home side’s miseries. But post-interval, Newcastle seemed a different unit. The once-overpowered defensive lines were now tight and structured, turning the tables on Milan and suppressing the home crowd’s once-boisterous energy.
While Milan’s chances post the break revolved around a misfiring Leao, Mike Maignan, the Rossoneri’s guardian, was substituted without facing a single shot. His successor, Marco Sportiello, did well to parry Sean Longstaff’s late screamer, marking Newcastle’s sole shot on target.
Performance Metrics: Player Ratings
- Mike Maignan: 6/10 – Unchallenged before an untimely exit.
- Davide Calabria: 4/10 – Restrained midfield ventures; substituted at half-time.
- Malick Thiaw: 7/10 – Vigilant without being overly aggressive.
- Fikayo Tomori: 8/10 – An impenetrable force, shadowing Alexander Isak effectively.
- Theo Hernandez: 7/10 – An offensive delight, constantly outpacing Kieran Trippier.
- Ruben Loftus-Cheek: 5/10 – Mired in a duel with Sandro Tonali; suffered a mishap.
- Rade Krunic: 6/10 – Defensive midfielder par excellence.
- Tommaso Pobega: 5/10 – Compensated technical limitations with relentless energy.
- Samuel Chukwueze: 3/10 – A hesitant debut.
- Olivier Giroud: 6/10 – Effortlessly ghosted around Sven Botman.
- Rafael Leao: 7/10 – Enigmatic in possession, albeit without the killer touch.
- Nick Pope: 8/10 – A beacon of hope against Milan’s onslaught.
- Kieran Trippier: 6/10 – An experienced hand, though occasionally overwhelmed by Leao.
- Fabian Schar: 6/10 – Composed on the ball; shaky during transitions.
- Sven Botman: 5/10 – Fell short of proving a point against an old suitor.
- Dan Burn: 6/10 – A textbook no-nonsense performance.
- Sean Longstaff: 4/10 – A missed golden chance.
- Bruno Guimaraes: 6/10 – Engulfed in the midfield tussle.
- Sandro Tonali: 4/10 – An unimpressive homecoming.
- Jacob Murphy: 5/10 – Uneven defensive support but redeemed himself.
- Alexander Isak: 3/10 – Found no room to breathe.
- Anthony Gordon: 5/10 – Showed glimpses but was largely contained.
Stefano Pioli (AC Milan): 6/10 – Bounced back post a derby drubbing, only finishing touch eluded his team.
Eddie Howe (Newcastle United): 5/10 – Reinforced the Magpies post-interval to secure an invaluable point.
The Standout Performer
Fikayo Tomori’s unwavering commitment made him the star of the evening. A testament to Milan’s dominant display and a beacon of hope for their future Champions League encounters.