May 18, 2024

 

 

Newcastle United suffered the first defeat of their Champions League campaign as Borussia Dortmund secured a vital victory on a rain-soaked night at St James’ Park.

Eddie Howe’s side started their return to Europe’s elite competition in impressive fashion with a draw against AC Milan in San Siro before a memorable thrashing of Paris St-Germain on Tyneside.

 

Newcastle, however, could not rediscover that same intensity while Dortmund belied their status as Group F’s bottom side prior to the game with an impressive display and secured victory through Felix Nmecha’s composed finish in first-half added time.

 

Howe’s side had their chances though, with Dortmund keeper Gregor Kobel thwarting Anthony Gordon twice and saving brilliantly from substitute Callum Wilson after the break.

 

They also came desperately close to claiming a point in the closing stages when Wilson’s header hit the bar and Gordon’s shot was deflected on to the frame of the goal with seconds remaining.

 

Dortmund kept Newcastle keeper Nick Pope busy too, particularly with an outstanding double save from Donyell Malen and Niclas Fullkrug in the first half.

 

The result has turned this group into a tense and tight one, with Newcastle hoping for better fortune in their next game in Dortmund next month.

 

Newcastle falter in a deluge

Newcastle’s drenched players trooped off disconsolate at the final whistle, a sharp contrast to their elation at the end of the magnificent 4-1 win against PSG in their last home Champions League game.

 

They did not perform badly. They simply did not meet the same standard of the night against the French side, helped by a fast start and an intensity that stunned PSG. They were also up against a streetwise Dortmund side boasting experience as well as energy.

 

Dortmund were far more dangerous and composed than PSG, dealing comfortably with the Tyneside atmosphere and giving their own noisy supporters plenty to cheer.

 

Newcastle were also disrupted by an early injury to striker Alexander Isak, although Wilson was dangerous when he came on and could easily have got on the scoresheet.

 

Howe will also point to cruel luck and curse the woodwork at the end, but overall Newcastle had a learning experience.

 

No need for Newcastle panic

The defeat is unquestionably a setback for Newcastle, especially as they knew another win here would leave them sitting pretty in Group F and locked firmly on course for the Champions League knockout stage.

 

But Howe will not be panicking after one loss, and nor should he.

 

They now sit level on points with Borussia Dortmund but in third place in the group, which serves to increase the importance of their return match in Germany.

 

Newcastle have certainly made life tougher for themselves with the fixtures to come but they are right in the fight to reach the last 16, even if there will have been an immediate post-match feeling that this was a chance that got away.

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