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Season 2023-24
AC Milan (Italy) (h) Champions League Group Match 6


Wednesday 13th December 2023, 8.00pm
Live on TNT Sports

St. James' Park

Conditions: Rueful

Admission: £55 and upwards



AC Milan


1 - 2





33 mins Fabian Schar brought the ball over halfway and threaded a pass to Anthony Gordon, who had found a pocket of space towards the centre. He turned and headed diagonally across the field  before finding Lewis Miley arriving on the right hand of the box. 

His first time pass infield neatly bisecting two opponents and fell at the feet of Joelinton, who flicked the ball up and caught it on the bounce, sending an unstoppable shot into the net. 1-0

Half time: Newcastle 1 AC Milan 0

59 mins Rafael Leao was afforded too much space to pull the ball back from the left hand side of the Newcastle box and although Tomori made a hash of his first-time shot, it ricocheted to Olivier Giroud who teed up Christian Pulisic to convert from six yards out. 1-1

84 mins Fabian Schar made one of his trademark runs and strode into the Milan area as he sought to swap passes with Isak. Sadly though a defender intervened to clear upfield to leave the visitors with four against three. That attack ended with Samuel Chukwueze popping in a curler from the right hand edge of the box seconds after his introduction.

For reasons that we struggle to comprehend, conceding this goal was the signal for a noticeable amount of people in home areas to head for the exits. The tie wasn't over!  1-2

Full time: Newcastle 1 AC Milan 2

We Said


Eddie Howe said:

"We wanted to qualify for the Champions League for sure. That was very much our intention before the game and in-game. I’m not sure in that moment you can take that will away from the players. 

"If you look at the goals we’ve conceded, they’ve come from mistakes that can happen in any moment whether you are being proactive or reactive. Of course I take ownership of that, but I’d much rather have the intention to go and attack and to try to win rather than the other way round.

"We’re desperately disappointed. It’s tough to take at the moment. The lads played very well in that first half and I thought we were good value. I was hoping the goal would come earlier than it did. Second half, we wanted to try to consolidate that and look for the second goal.

"I was really disappointed with the first goal we conceded because I think that is the key moment. We didn’t deal with a second-phase set-play well enough – it was an uncharacteristic goal, really, for us to concede and then the game became very transitional.

“It was end-to-end from both teams, both teams looking to win, and we conceded on one of those transitions. I thought there were some really good bits, we were dominant at times, but probably needed the second goal. We didn't defend the two goals well enough.

"It was very much end to end. Both teams were desperate to win. We wanted to win the game and we were trying to head for the Champions League so we had to be brave and they had to be brave. It made for a very good game. We did create chances and we're absolutely devastated not to go through.

"We had the opportunity tonight to do what we had to do and we didn't take it. We couldn't have tried harder, I don't think we left anything on the pitch.

"You always have to use disappointment - the setbacks - as motivation and fuel for your fire to make sure you continue to achieve. We'll go back to the Premier League and try and do as much as we can to be consistent and stay up there.

"It's painful but that pain is motivation for tomorrow. Now we need to focus on the Premier League and get that right. This game stops for nobody. We have to park this quickly, learn from it, adjust and move on. I don't want a hangover from this." 

On lessons learned from his first-ever CL campaign:

"The value of the squad first and foremost, that's what's exposed us, the fact we haven't had the ability to utilise the squad we've created. 

"We've gone into games very limited in what we can do and that hasn't helped us."

On his substitution choices:

(Anthony Gordon) said he had an awareness of something in his hamstring. We're not sure if it's an injury because he could still sort of play, but he couldn't play to the high level that he has played for a long time - I think he had an issue full sprinting.

"Anthony is a very positive lad - he thinks he's fine - but we'll see."

"I think he
(Kieran Trippier) picked up something in the first half. I don't quite know what it is at this moment in time. He wanted to carry on half-time but then he signalled that he couldn't continue." 

They Said

Stefano Pioli:

"The first match. We should have won the first match because of how we played. We didn’t succeed… We’re so sorry. We cared a lot about the Champions League. The Europa League is an important competition, Milan have never won it. 

"It’s a bittersweet evening. Sweet because Milan hadn’t won in England since 2005, we fought and we believed in it. Satisfaction with the victory certainly but there is a bit of regret and disappointment at having exited the Champions League.

"Of course we’re disappointed about the Champions League and we regret it. Clearly we’re disappointed, but we also have the conviction that we’re a team that can do well.

"Tonight they played a high-paced game but we stayed in the game and played a great second half. Now we will do all we can to win the UEFA Europa League.

"There are many feelings, certainly going out of the Champions League is disappointing, especially considering how we well did last season. We knew this group was completely different and very difficult. 

"It's sad to have regrets, we deserved more and did not know how to take our opportunities in the other games, whereas tonight we did do that. We were not intimidated or demoralised by an opponent that played with incredible intensity.

"This means we will do everything we can to win the Europa League.

“I don't think we played badly the first half, but Newcastle had this incredible intensity and highlighted our errors. They had lost at home only twice this season against Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool, while we had not won in England for many years and finally it arrived.

"Today's performance should only give us confidence going forward. My big regret is that the team is not making the most of its potential right now, in Europe and in Serie A, so that is what I must work on and try to change that.

"This squad has so much potential, we created so many chances especially in the Champions League and lacked that bit of determination and quality. With that, we would've been here celebrating Champions League progress.

"Clearly, we can only now try to consolidate third place in Serie A and then try to do more. Our minimum objective is to qualify for the Champions League again, that is the very least we can aim for."


Here's where the story ends:

Borussia Dortmund qualified for the Round of 16 alongside runners-up Paris Saint-Germain. AC Milan finished third to claim a place on the Europa League Knockout Round play-off.

Six pack: - NUFC CL group game record:

1997/98 Group C: 7 points, GD -1 (scored 7, conceded 8) finished 3rd (only winners advanced)
2002/03 Group E: 9 points, GD -2 (scored 6, conceded 8) finished 2nd (1st/2nd advanced)
2023/24 Group F: 5 points, GD -1 (scored 6, conceded 7) finished 4th (1st/2nd advanced)

Martin Dubravka became the 23rd player used by Newcastle in the 2023/24 Champions League.

Joelinton became the 20th different player to net for United in the Champions League, scoring our 39th goal in that competition. He's the third current Magpie to complete a set of PL, League Cup, FA Cup and European goals for Newcastle, emulating Miguel Almiron and Sean Longstaff.

This was Newcastle's fifteenth Champions League home fixture, the Magpies suffering a seventh loss to accompany their eight victories. They are yet to draw a game at SJP in this competition.  

Before tonight, the last instance of Newcastle leading a European game at half time but losing at full time was the 1-2 reverse at Halmstads in the UEFA Cup campaign of 1996/97. 

Following the 0-1 reverse to Borussia Dortmund, this result meant that United lost successive home games in European competition for the first time ever.

The absence of Nick Pope and the omission of Mark Gillespie from the CL squad saw a maiden senior selection for Adam Harrison. The 17 year-old goalkeeper took squad number 82 and remained on the bench, emulating fellow Toon youngster Aidan Harris who had a similar role away to AC Milan.

Dan Burn returned to action for Newcastle 24 hours after the 14th anniversary of his league debut, playing for Darlington in a 0-5 defeat at Torquay United.

NUFC in the Champions League @ SJP:

1997/98 Croatia Zagreb won 2-1
1997/98 Barcelona won 3-2
1997/98 PSV lost 0-2
1997/98 Dynamo Kiev won 2-0
2002/03 Zeljeznicar won 4-0
2002/03 Feyenoord lost 0-1
2002/03 Juventus won 1-0
2002/03 Dynamo Kiev won 2-1
2002/03 Inter Milan lost 1-4
2002/03 Bayer Leverkusen won 3-1
2002/03 Barcelona lost 0-2
2003/04 Partizan Belgrade lost 0-1 (lost 3-4 pens)
2023/24 PSG won 4-1
2023/24 Borussia Dortmund lost 0-1
2023/24 AC Milan lost 1-2

Italian sides on Tyneside - competitive visits:

1970/71 Inter Milan won 2-0 (FC)
1972/73 Bologna won 1-0 (AI)
1972/73 Torino won 5-1 (AI)
1992/93 Ascoli lost 0-1 (AI)
1992/93 Cesena drew 2-2 (AI)
1999/00 AS Roma drew 0-0 (UE)
2002/03 Juventus won 1-0 (CL)
2002/03 Inter Milan lost 1-4 (CL)
2023/24 AC Milan lost 1-2 (CL)



The Champions League Group of Death finally claimed a victim on Wednesday evening and sadly for Newcastle, the deceased was clad in black and white.

A group stage campaign that began in the Italian sunshine concluded on a chilly Tyneside with the Magpies still able to finish in every position except first place. 

Contrary to some pre-match disinformation, Martin Dubravka kept his place in a side that showed only one change from that beaten at Everton and Spurs - Callum Wilson replacing Alexander Isak.

A night of drastic mood swings began positively, the hosts predictably taking the game to their Italian foes and agonisingly prevented from taking the lead when Miguel Almiron was robbed on the line by the intervention of Fikayo Tomori. 

However United were rewarded for their graft when Anthony Gordon and Lewis Miley combined for Joelinton to power an unstoppable 33rd minute strike into the Leazes End net.

With no score in the Borussia Dortmund against PSG game, that lead saw Newcastle rise one place to second in the group, were both results to remain unchanged at the final whistle. Half time arrived with no change to those scores; a one goal advantage fair reward for a lively display by United; the bulk of their forward effort coming down the right via a revitalised Kieran Trippier.

Following the restart, news of a 51st minute opener for Dortmund against PSG raised the noise levels at Gallowgate still further, firming up the runners-up spot at that point. Within five minutes though, the French levelled and that blow was quickly followed by Christian Pulisic levelling for AC Milan.

Draws in England and Germany would have downgraded United to third and a Europa League spot, meaning that they needed to restore their lead and hope that Dortmund avoided falling behind in order to progress in the Champions League.

Howe's response was to introduce Isak for Anthony Gordon down the left and withdraw Trippier for Dan Burn, the latter missing for seven games due to a back problem and returning without any public acknowledgement of his fitness - another Howe success. Tino Livramento moved across to right back as United continued to push forward, urged on by their supporters. 

And they came agonisingly close to restoring their lead on 70 minutes; Bruno Guimaraes in despair after goalkeeper Mike Maignan reached a shot of similar distance and venom to Joelinton's opener and tipped it onto the Gallowgate crossbar.

Sean Longstaff then entered the fray, meaning that all three home replacements had a goal to their name in this competition this season.

Following a scare when PSG went ahead before VAR rapidly ruled it out, a swift Milan counter attack stemming from Livramento's poor touch ending with Leao shooting against a post; electing not to play in the totally unmarked Luka Jovic for an easier finish.

United failed to heed that warning though and maintained their pursuit of a second goal; the visitors content to soak up the pressure ahead of making their own changes. A trio of Milan replacements then combined to give Samuel Chukwueze the chance to fire home with six minutes remaining.

Despite a valiant effort, Newcastle couldn't find the goal needed to drag them back up to third: Callum Wilson never having a clear-cut chance to score the Champions League goal that he so desperately wanted to add to his collection. He never get another chance. 

Milan meanwhile spurning two glaring opportunities in the four minutes of time added on to finally kill the tie.vTheo Hernandez missed an open goal following a home corner that Dubravka went upfield for - the Frenchman going for glory from the halfway line rather than passing to Chukwueze. Another race upfield from deep in Milan territory seconds later then saw Tomori strike the goal frame.  

1-2 it stayed though - an agonising but not wholly unexpected end to what has been an engrossing return to Europe. For all the regrets over tonight's reality check though, the real fury is still over the dubious officiating that turned three points into one point in Paris.

Despite the considerable distractions of both domestic cups, the task at hand is now to ensure that European football returns here in 2024. That's certainly not beyond our reach and when emotions subside here, may well have been enhanced by bowing out now. 

Our own reading is that for the club it was Champions League qualification or nothing and the prospect of continuing into 2024 with Europa League matches wasn't on the agenda.

Appetites for more of this were whetted on and off the field by half a dozen ties which have evoked wildly contrasting emotions: from the unadulterated wonder of leathering PSG here to the outrage of the Parc des Princes pickpocketry and here tonight, as Milan joined Anderlecht and Partizan on the list of sides to have silenced Saint James' Park. A trio of memorable away trips also gave a new generation of fans the chance to make memories - and hangovers. 

It's not all about the jolly though; qualification for this competition highlighting the inadequacies of our squad at the outset before well-documented personnel issues blighted our challenge. 

That opening tie now seems like a lifetime ago rather than 12 weeks ago - Elliot Anderson, Harvey Barnes, Sven Botman, Jacob Murphy Nick Pope and Sandro Tonali all playing at the San Siro - but now the ghosts of Champions League past.

Selection issues brought opportunities for others though; most noticeably Lewis Miley, whose pass tonight for Joelinton's goal made him the youngest player to register an assist for an English club in the Champions League, eclipsing Theo Walcott's record. Twelve months earlier the young Magpie was playing across the city for the U21s in front of less than 100 fans.  

And to the actual games themselves, where our unrelenting honesty ultimately cost us as much as the injury list - although the latter tonight left us noticeably short of attacking originality. 

It's no shock that we came up short against a trio of bona fide Champions League teams, but there were enough positives across the ties to make this campaign a worthwhile exercise and it would have been interesting to see us face them with a full side. 

Two years ago tonight, six of tonight's starting line-up were being beaten 0-4 at Leicester - a result that left us second bottom of the Premier League. We've progressed a bit since then and there's no reason to suggest that won't continue. A setback rather than a calamity.

Last word to Sir Bobby Robson after our 2003 exit from this competition: "We've enjoyed the ride, we've paid the money, got the ride, got off the tramcar - let's go again. We can do better."


Page last updated 18 December, 2023