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Season 2017-18
Royal Antwerp (n)


Sunday 18th March 2018, Noon (local)

 Pinatar Arena, San Pedro Del Pinatar, Spain

Conditions: unique

Admission: €5

(no programme)

Royal Antwerp

Newcastle United

1 - 1




40 mins Matt Ritchie lob 1-0

End of first 45: Antwerp 0 NUFC 1

End of second 45: Antwerp 0 NUFC 1

 mins Alexander Corryn shot 1-1

(127 mins Dwight Gayle missed a penalty - saved)

Full time: Antwerp 1 NUFC 1

We Said


Rafa Benitez said:

"I think it was fine, the idea was to get minutes under their belts and create some chances.

"It was positive for us, they didn’t create too much and we got no injuries. Some of them needed to play 90 minutes. Some played 45 but a lot of them got 90 minutes so it’s good and we’ll see if it can help before the end of the season.

"In terms of the training sessions they were fine; in terms of the relationship between the players spending time together that was also positive.

"When you play these kind of games you can’t expect everybody to be running at full pace. They were competing and doing well. There were some bad tackles at the end which I didn’t like too much because it’s always a risk."

When asked if Karl Darlow will be fit for the rest of the season:

"We think so. He has a little discomfort in his shoulder. We have to be careful with him - that’s it.

On the debutant duo:

"They were fine. Nathan
(Harker) was unlucky because the first shot was a goal. It was quite difficult because it was in the bottom corner. After that it was fine he was in good positions so it will be a good experience for him.

"I think Victor
(Fernandez) did well too. We were attacking a lot in the second half and the last part of the game. He was involved all the time.”


They Said

Antwerp's coach László Bölöni said.....nothing that we could understand.



United were reunited with their 1994/95 UEFA Cup opponents, a team they beat 5-0 in Belgium and then 5-2 on Tyneside in the second leg.

There were first senior outings for goalkeeper Nathan Harker and winger Victor Fernandez.

Young Vic makes his bow

Our opponents were at less than full strength; international commitments for Belgium U21s, Burkina Faso and Cameroon keeping four away, another three injured and one staying at home due to a family illness. Also absent was their assistant coach Wim De Decker, off doing his Pro Licence.


With an enforced 21 day gap in their Premier League season, Newcastle rounded off their four day training camp with a kickabout against Belgian First Division opposition in Spain on Sunday.

In order to maximise pitch time for the United squad, agreement was reached to play three 45 minute periods to make the game of 135 minute duration. That allowed Rafa Benitez to give 22 of his players at least 45 minutes action on the grass surface of the Pinatar Arena on the Costa Blanca.

Present in Spain but not featuring in proceedings due to fitness issues were Karl Darlow and Islam Slimani, while Rob Elliot and Jesus Gamez remained back on Tyneside.

In addition to 19 more regular first teamers, there was a rare 90 minutes for Massadio Haidara, while two reserves were blooded at this level: winger Victor Fernandez and goalkeeper Nathan Harker.  

United dominated the first period and went ahead five minutes before the break when Chancel Mbemba's long ball put Matt Ritchie through on goal and he lobbed 'keeper Sinan Bolat. 

The Magpies then returned with eight of the same side plus a new central back duo of Jamaal Lascelles and Ciaran Clark and Isaac Hayden in a central midfield role.

Without their dominant influence of Jonjo Shelvey though, United seldom looked like adding to their advantage after Ritchie's strike from distance was blocked after 49 minutes.

A further change of personnel for the third and final period saw just three Newcastle players stay on, with eight new arrivals including the rookie pair.

Harker's introduction saw him picking the ball out of his net after just 20 seconds, beaten by a low shot from Alexander Corryn - although there was some weak defending going on in front of him.

Mo Diame came close to restoring Newcastle's lead with a surging run and shot that was tipped over by 'keeper Kevin Debaty, Dwight Gayle and Clark also spurning opportunities to make it 2-1.

What looked a perfect opportunity to round off the trip arrived on 127 minutes though, when Ayoze Perez was wrestled over in the area by ex-Southampton and Wolves defender Jelle Van Damme. 

With Ritchie (and Joselu) off the field, Gayle took the resultant penalty, but Debaty guessed correctly and flung himself to his right to beat the effort away.

A game that became increasingly niggly threatened to end on a sour note, with Lascelles reacting badly to a challenge by Reda Jaadi. As players from both sides sought to quell an outbreak of Jaadi aggro though, the referee blew for full time a fraction early and matters quickly settled down.

United flew back to Tyneside following the game and will now prepare for the visit of Huddersfield Town to SJP on Saturday week, minus the six senior players away on international duty. 

Unlike some recent overseas trips by other PL sides, nothing untoward seems to have happened here and none of the training sessions were affected by the weather - something that certainly wouldn't have been the case had the squad remained on Tyneside.


Page last updated 13 June, 2018