Newcastle draw at Milan on Champions League return


Olivier Giroud of AC Milan competes for the ball with Fabian Schär of Newcastle United FC during the UEFA Champions League match between AC Milan and Newcastle United FC at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on September 19, 2023 in Milan, Italy. 

Newcastle marked their return to the Champions League after a 20-year absence with a creditable draw at AC Milan.

Eddie Howe's side are back in Europe's elite club competition after finishing fourth in the Premier League last season, and this was their first match in a tough Group F that also contains French champions Paris St-Germain and German giants Borussia Dortmund.

They were given a reminder of the difficulty of games in this competition as Milan dominated the first half, with Nick Pope saving well from Olivier Giroud and Theo Hernandez.

Rafael Leao spurned a golden chance to score as he fluffed his backheel after a fine solo run, and Newcastle were fortunate to go into the break level.

But the game was much more even in the second half. Former Milan midfielder Sandro Tonali saw a shot blocked for the visitors, while Tijjani Reijnders forced a decent save out of Pope with a low drive.

Leao really should have won it in the closing stages when he got between Newcastle defenders to meet a cross, but he headed just over.

Newcastle's first shot on target arrived in the fourth minute of stoppage time when Sean Longstaff saw a fierce effort tipped over, but in the end a point at the San Siro is certainly an encouraging result for the Magpies.

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