Newcastle manage to frustrate Milan and hold on for a goalless draw at San Siro to start their UEFA Champions League group stage campaign in a positive fashion.
MIL XI: Maignan; Calabria, Thiaw, Tomori, Hernandez; Loftus-Cheek, Krunic, Pobega; Chukwueze, Giroud, Leao
MIL SUBS: Mirante, Sportiello, Bartesaghi, Kjaer, Florenzi, Musah, Reijnders, Adli, Pulisic, Okafor, Jovic
NEW XI: Pope; Trippie*, Schar, Botman, Burn; Longstaff, Guimaraes, Tonali; Murphy, Isak, Gordon
NEW SUBS: Harris, Karius, Lascelles, Dummett, Livramento, Targett, Hall, Miley, Anderson, Almiron, Barnes, Wilson
Action: With very little happening early on, it was AC Milan who really turned up the heat in the early stages of the game with the Rossoneri peppering the Geordie goal early on.
A stinging drive from distance by Ruben Loftus-Cheek was palmed away by Nick Pope but then Samu Chukwueze and Olivier Giroud both went close moments later with Pope, once again, called upon to make smart saves.
Rade Krunic was next to test Pope in the Newcastle goal with the Slovenian volleying at goal and Pope tipping over. From the resultant corner, taken by Krunic, Theo Hernandez headed down into the ground, allowing Pope time to palm over again.
Olivier Giroud went close and hit into the side-netting before Milan’s best opportunity of the match: Rafael Leao driving in from the left, taking on three Newcastle defenders before over complicating a finish and having the ball easily cleared with the rebound also blocked on the line.
Newcastle did begin to grow into the game in the latter stages of the half but it was an impressive first-half display from the hosts that left the visitors feeling fortunate to remain all square at the break.
Some tweaks to Newcastle’s play, tightening up in midfield and not pressing as high, allowed the visitors to squeeze their opposition for much of the second-half and limit the joy Milan had had.
Milan did begin to turn up the pressure as the half went on with Rafael Leao springing into life later on, having a header narrowly go over the bar and onto the top of the net.
Milan’s momentum was slowed, though, as goalkeeper Mike Maignan went down injured and had to be replaced by former Atalanta stopper Marco Sportiello.
With the game becoming stretched, Newcastle began to have some openings late on but it was Milan who remained the most threatening with Olivier Giroud once again having an effort comfortably saved by Pope.
With just seconds of the game remaining, Newcastle very nearly exploited the aforementioned stretched nature of the match with Sean Longstaff finding space on the edge of the area but substitute Sportiello managed to parry over.
The big picture: AC Milan will remain a little frustrated and irritated that they could not make immediate amends for their shellacking at the hands of Inter at the weekend. Newcastle will be content with a point in their opening match of their return to the UEFA Champions League.
Expected goals: AC Milan (2.05) 0-0 (0.19) Newcastle United
Man of the match: Nick Pope. A special mention must go to Fikayo Tomori but keeping a clean sheet on UEFA Champions League debut at San Siro with over five saves made in the opening half hour means Nick Pope deserves some recognition.
’81 | INJURY: Maignan