Football Features

Newcastle’s 20-year wait for away goal continues with Champions League future in doubt

By Harry Edwards

Published: 20:08, 7 November 2023

Newcastle United’s European woes continued as they were beaten 2-0 by Borussia Dortmund in Germany.

Life back in the Champions League had started so well for the Magpies as they secured a goalless draw against AC Milan at the San Siro before beating PSG 4-1 at St James’ Park.

Some fans will have been dreaming of early qualification for the knockout stages, and they were being tipped for it given the results in the rest of the group. But now their future hangs in the balance.

In gameweeks three and four, Newcastle faced a Dortmund side that hadn’t scored in their opening two Champions League matches. After losing 1-0 at St James’ Park, Newcastle needed a positive result in Dortmund to remain in control of their own destiny. But it wasn’t going to be an easy ride.

Dortmund were unbeaten in their last six home games in the Champions League, winning three and drawing three. In that run, the German side had conceded just one goal and kept three consecutive clean sheets going into this game.

On top of all that, Newcastle were missing some crucial players including Dan Burn, Sven Botman, Alexander Isak, Jacob Murphy and, of course, Sandro Tonali.

An incredible 81,365 fans were in attendance at the Westfalenstadion and Dortmund made their home advantage count. Dortmund were on top from the off, testing Nick Pope’s goal on numerous occasions, so their 26th-minute lead was deserved.

Niclas Fullkrug was the man to get the opener, tapping in after a good team move and link up play with Marcel Sabitzer. It’s the German’s first ever Champions League goal, having struggled for Dortmund since his move in the summer.

The goal sparked Newcastle to life and they had a few chances of their own, including a great one for Joelinton in the second half. But they opened themselves up to the counter as they pushed for an equaliser, and Dortmund made them pay.

The move for the second started with a Newcastle free-kick on the edge of the Dortmund area, taken by Kieran Trippier. Fourteen seconds later, Dortmund scored. It was great work from Karim Adeyemi to pick out Julian Brandt and the forward did well to keep his composure on the break, slotting past Nick Pope.

Despite the defeat and what lies ahead, Eddie Howe doesn’t seem to be too cut up, believing Newcastle were close to getting something.

“From our side, we were not far away tonight,” he told reporters.

“And I think that is the thing to take away. Us at our very best, even with the amount of players we have out should have been good enough. So we have to take responsibility for that.

“The players gave so much so it is not a question of sitting here and looking at what they have given. They have given what they could give. But maybe the game came too quick for us and the turnaround was a game too many after what they have given in the last few weeks.”

The result, coupled with AC Milan beating PSG, leaves Newcastle bottom of the group, though things are extremely tight. It does mean that Newcastle realistically need a win over PSG in their next game if they are to harbour any hopes of staying in the Champions League.

But Newcastle haven’t scored an away goal in the Champions League since March 2003, when Alan Shearer netted a brace against Inter Milan. The Magpies had just one shot on target at the San Siro but did improve that to five against Dortmund.

Newcastle have also struggled away from home of late. This season, in eight away games across all competitions, Newcastle have managed two victories, beating Man Utd in the EFL Cup last week and that 8-0 thrashing of Sheffield United. They have lost to Man City, Brighton and Dortmund, while drawing with AC Milan, West Ham and Wolves.