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Season 2022-23
Rayo Vallecano (h) Friendly


Saturday 17th December 2022, 12.30pm
Live on NUFC TV

 St. James' Park

Conditions: Gentle

Admission: £20 (no price increase for matchday sales this time).

Programme: £3.50



 Rayo Vallecano


2 - 1





4 mins Guarding the Gallowgate goal, Nick Pope rolled the ball to Matt Targett, who trotted forward and found Joe Willock ahead of him over halfway with a simple pass. Turning infield, he found Kieran Trippier in the right hand channel and he quickly centred towards Chris Wood deep in the area.

That was reached by Abdul Mumin, whose header was angled towards the North East Corner but got only as far as Jacob Murphy. His measured first-time tap towards goal put the ball into the path of the unguarded Sean Longstaff, who calmly dispatched a rising shot into the roof of the net from seven yards out.

Half time: Newcastle 1 Rayo 0

69 mins Pope initiated the play once again with a short forward pass and after Jonjo Shelvey and Sven Botman exchanged passes, Targett pumped the ball forward down the left hand touchline for Willock to run on to.

Arriving in the Rayo box, Willock stepped away from goal in an attempt to reach the byline and tempted the luckless Mumin into a rash lunge that left the Newcastle man on the turf.

Following weak protests from the guilty party, Chris Wood dispatched a right-footed penalty kick high to the goalkeeper's right.

75 mins The visitors advanced over halfway and substitute Fran Garcia found space to set Alvaro Garcia away down the left flank. Pulling Jamaal Lascelles out of the centre, he cut the ball back from the byline before Botman could close him down.

Targett slid in to try and prevent the pass from reaching any of the three opponents who had arrived in the box, but succeeded only in diverting from six yards out between the wrong-footed Pope and his near post.

Full time: Newcastle 2 Rayo 1

We Said

Eddie Howe

"It was really good, just the test we needed. Vallecano have been very good this season, a really strong team. They play, in essence, like a Premier League team, a very aggressive front-foot team.

"I thought there was some really good stuff from us, especially in the first half.

”Everyone’s coming back at different times and stages with different things behind them. We’re having to manage that situation, and trying to get the players fit as quickly as possible without putting them at risk of injury.

"Slightly unusual time for us with players coming back at different stages and  different needs. Today reflected that.

"Hopefully, the players that played got what they needed, and they’re all a step closer to being fit and ready to play.

”I’ll have to wait and see, assess the squad, and then try and pick a team that will be competitive against Bournemouth.”

On Alexander Isak:

"With Alex, there was no fixed return date on him. I think the medical team have just tried to look at his recovery day by day, and try to get him in the best physical place he can be in the ideal time.

"We hoped to have him fit and available for the Bournemouth game, but I don’t think that’s going to be likely. We’ll just take it on a game-by-game basis. It’s a difficult one.

"We haven’t got a return date on him. He’s with the medical team at the moment, and he’s working hard and making progress. I can’t give you a return date.”

On Callum Wilson:

"We’ve only seen Callum briefly but I don’t want to give too much away, to be honest.”

On Bruno Guimaraes:

"Bruno’s a player we haven’t seen much of, but he’s such an important player for us.

"We need to get his training load right, and make sure when he’s fit and available, he’s at his very best. He’s fine, no problems with him.”

They Said

Andoni Iraola - who was in Athletic Bilbao's B team squad when their first XI visited SJP back in 2001 - said:

“It is a game that has been very good for us at this point in the season because they have demanded a very high pace from us. It is a team that is third in the Premier for a reason and we have had to catch up with that rhythm to be able to compete.

"There are players who go to duels very strong, who don't stop running, the game has a very high physical demand and I am very happy, you lose the game but even suffering, it leaves us at a suitable point to face the competition ”.

"It was the idea of ​​the club, to play against the highest level rivals that we could in very beautiful settings where the player also enjoys and is required.

"They are duels that you win, that have value and I think they will leave us a good rhythm to start competing. We have reset all the teams and we don't know what our form is until we compete again.

"I have good feelings because I see the players well."

(Like United, Rayo return to action in midweek with a cup tie, facing Sanguntino in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday).


Dylan Stephenson made his third senior friendly appearance of the season, all of which have come from the bench. On the field for just a minute of the pre-season home kickabout against Atalanta, he managed 13 minutes in Saudi Arabia earlier this month and 14 minutes here today.

Jay Turner-Cooke made his second senior appearance following his 88th minute arrival in Riyadh last month, gaining 14 minutes here today.

Miley also had a second senior outing to go with his two minutes against Al-Hilal, getting on for seven minutes against Rayo.

(NB: due to a lack of team information, no account is made in the above figures of possible involvement in the recent BCD game with Boro)

Despite featuring against Al-Hilal some nine days earlier, there was no place in the matchday squad for messrs Karius, Manquillo, Lewis, Joelinton, Almiron, Anderson, Burn or Fraser.

Alexander Isak's comeback continues on the training ground with no date when he'll be available for selection, while messrs Dummett and Ritchie remain around the squad without actually playing.

While Trippier and Pope both played, Callum Wilson, Bruno Guimaraes and Fabian Schar were all omitted following their international exertions.

Spanish sides @ SJP - PL era:

1994/95 Athletic Bilbao won 3-2 (UEFA Cup)
1997/98 Barcelona won 3-2 (Champions League)
2001/02 Athletic Bilbao lost 0-1 (FR)
2002/03 Barcelona lost 0-3 (FR)
Barcelona lost 0-2 (Champions League)
2003/04 Real Mallorca won 4-1 (UEFA Cup)
Deportivo La Coruna lost 1-2 (Intertoto Cup)
2006/07 Villarreal drew 3-3 (FR)
Celta Vigo won 2-1 (UEFA Cup)
2008/09 Valencia won 2-1 (FR)
2014/15 Real Sociedad won 1-0 (FR)
2022/23 Athletic Bilbao won 2-1 (FR)

2022/23 Rayo Vallecano won 2-1 (FR)




Newcastle maintained their winning run at a chilly Gallowgate on Saturday lunchtime in the last of three kickabouts that occupied them during the enforced break in competitive fixtures for the World Cup Finals.

Following a 2-1 training ground success over Boro and the five goal romp in Riyadh, the side currently lying eighth in La Liga were dispatched in a tepid encounter that did little to rouse an impressive turnout.

Two of the five players who had been on national service in Qatar were in a strong starting selection fielded by Eddie Howe, but rather than fielding any sort of shadow XI the outfield portion of the bench consisted of U21 rookies.

Ahead early on through Sean Longstaff, United's bright start looked to have continued when Alan Saint-Maximin broke forward and teed up Chris Wood for a tap-in, only for a linesman's offside flag to half further celebrations.

Goalmouth action was in short supply after that point although the hosts continued to dominate and it took until the half hour mark for North Macedonian international goalkeeper Stole
Dimitrievski to block Jacob Murphy's effort arising from Kieran Trippier's smart ball into the area.

An even less eventful second period was then enlivened by Wood's precise spot kick conversion that look to have sealed victory. That came just before SJP old boy Florian Lejeune received a decent reception as he arrived from the bench for Rayo - one of a clutch of replacements made by the visitors.

United by contrast retained their starting line-up until the closing stages of the game, by which time Matt Targett had unfortunately put through his own goal to the delight of the small away throng at that end of the ground.

U21 trio Jay Turner-Cooke, Dylan Stephenson and Lewis Miley all gained further pitch time as the game drifted to a conclusion - aside from the strenuous efforts of Saint-Maximin to create or score a third home goal, which ended with him limping off the field in some distress.

A sell-out St.James' will greet their heroes on Tuesday night, when the business end of the season gets underway with a League Cup tie against fellow Premier League side Bournemouth.

Regardless of our current lofty position in the table, that's a significant date for a club who now finally share the hunger of supporters to end that trophy drought. If today was suitable preparation for that then it was entirely worthwhile, but those of our number who routinely avoid kickabouts won't have had their minds changed by tuning in to this one.

A good workout, someone no doubt said, somewhere.    


Page last updated 19 December, 2022