Newcastle United and AC Milan both experienced disappointment as they exited the UEFA Champions League (UCL) at the group stage. Despite AC Milan’s 2-1 victory at St James’ Park, the result couldn’t save them from elimination. The match marked the end of a five-match winless run for AC Milan away from home in Europe’s premier cup competition.
The atmosphere at St James’ Park was electric, with the Geordie faithful playing their part on what could have been a pivotal night in Newcastle’s season. The Magpies’ fate was partly dependent on events in Dortmund, but they were determined to force an early opening goal.
Newcastle started strong, with Kieran Trippier having an early strike from a free-kick that narrowly missed the target. AC Milan defender Fikayo Tomori made a sensational tackle to deny Miguel Almirón a tap-in from Joelinton’s cut-back, showcasing his defensive prowess.
However, it was Joelinton himself who delivered the breakthrough in impressive fashion, scoring a ferocious finish past Mike Maignan in the 33rd minute. This propelled Newcastle into the second spot in the group, overtaking Paris Saint-Germain thanks to the head-to-head rule.
After the halftime break, the feel-good factor on Tyneside increased with news of Karim Adeyemi’s opener against PSG. This moved Newcastle one point clear of the French champions. However, Warren Zaïre-Emery’s equalizer for PSG reduced Newcastle’s advantage to the head-to-head rule, marking the first blow for Steve Howe’s side.
Christian Pulisic leveled the scores just before the hour mark, expertly assisted by Olivier Giroud. This equalizer dampened the atmosphere as Newcastle dropped back down to the third spot they occupied before kick-off.
Newcastle had their chances to regain the lead, with Bruno Guimarães coming close with a long-range strike that was brilliantly saved by Maignan, who tipped the ball onto the crossbar. Callum Wilson also missed an opportunity to score from Tino Livramento’s cross, adding to the frustration for the Magpies.
Despite Newcastle’s efforts, AC Milan always posed a threat on the break. They turned the match around with Samuel Chukwueze’s excellent finish at the end of a blistering counter-attack. This goal moved AC Milan into third place, but they still trailed PSG on the head-to-head rule.
Unfortunately for Newcastle, there was no further drama on this eventful night on Tyneside, as they succumbed to a third consecutive defeat across all competitions. The disappointment is amplified by the fact that their European adventure ends before Christmas.
On the other hand, AC Milan showed impressive resilience and will now have UEFA Europa League football as a consolation prize heading into the New Year.