Newcastle hold AC Milan on Champions League return

19th September 2023

The game was Newcastle's first in the UCL in 20 years.

Newcastle's Bruno Guimaraes taking on Milan's Christian Pulisic and Ruben Loftus Cheek. PHOTO| AFP
Newcastle's Bruno Guimaraes taking on Milan's Christian Pulisic and Ruben Loftus Cheek. PHOTO| AFP
  • The two sides played out to a 0-0 draw at San Siro.
  • AC Milan had the better chances with star man Rafa Leao missing a key scoring opportunity.
  • The game saw midfielder Sandro Tonali also return to San Siro since his transfer in July.

Newcastle held AC Milan to a goalless draw in Tuesday's opening match of their first Champions League campaign in two decades.

Eddie Howe's Newcastle will be the happier of the two sides to earn a point from the Group F clash at the San Siro after being on the back foot for the vast majority of the match.

Milan should have won after wasting a string of chances, particularly in the first half, and dominating the play on Sandro Tonali's return to his old stomping ground following his move to Newcastle in July.

Newcastle did little in their first match in Europe's top club competition since 2003, the Saudi Arabia-backed team barely creating a chance and lucky to escape with a draw on the balance of play.

The Rosonneri were the first to spark into life, with Tommaso Pobega and Rade Krunic forcing Nick Pope into saves with efforts from range, before the goalkeeper reacted well to tip Theo Hernandez's header over.

Rafael Leao then created a clear goal scoring opportunity when he danced his way past two retreating Newcastle defenders only to make a complete mess of his final attempt as he tried to find the back of the net with a backfired backheel attempt instead of just striking it.

Both sides made two changes on the hour mark in a bid to alter the scoreline but still nothing was forthcoming.

Tonali's father was at the San Siro and saw much more football played by the hosts than by his son, back in the Newcastle starting line-up after missing international duty with injury.

The Italy midfielder was in the 72nd minute loudly cheered off by home supporters in who don't resent his mega-money move to England before kick-off.

But home fans, who watched their team be thumped 5-1 by local rivals Inter Milan on Saturday, were left frustrated by their team's poor finishing and Newcastle's dogged defending which left the match goalless.

© Agence France-Presse