Matchday three of this season’s Champions League saw the first competitive meeting between Newcastle and Borussia Dortmund.
Eddie Howe’s side was looking to build on their fantastic 4-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain last time out while preserving an impressive club record. The Magpies came into tonight’s game having never lost to a German opponent in all European competition (four wins and one draw).
Dortmund, who played out a goalless draw with Milan in the previous round of fixtures, had lost their last six away games against English sides in all competitions.
Recent history was looking favourably upon the hosts and this was another opportunity to put down a statement win. But nothing lasts forever and Dortmund ended their miserable run on English soil.
In what turned out to be an entertaining end-to-end affair with no fewer than 25 shots on goal it was a wonderfully-taken Felix Nmecha effort on half-time which settled this rousing contest.
Here’s how the players rated at St. James’ Park:
Nick Pope – 7.5 – Called into action seconds into the game when he denied Malen from close range. His stock rose sustainably in the 10th minute when he pulled off an incredible double save.
Dan Burn – 6 – Produced a key intervention just when BVB had their tails up though it ended up counting for nothing.
Jamaal Lascelles – 6 – An inspired performance from the Newcastle skipper but it wasn’t enough.
Fabian Schär – 6 – His well-timed challenge in the 57th minute should have led to Newcastle’s equaliser. The combative Swiss international was in a take-no-prisoners mode.
Kieran Trippier – 5.5 – No one in a black-and-white jersey had possession more times but the oft-productive Trippier wasn’t able to cut through.
Joelinton – 5 – Still not up to speed after returning from a troublesome hamstring injury.
Bruno Guimarães – 5 – Ended up frustrated as BVB swamped the midfield. Booked for a late foul on Sabitzer.
Sean Longstaff – 4 – Struggled to impose himself as soon as Dortmund took control of the middle third.
Anthony Gordon – 6 – If not for some brilliant Kobel goalkeeping Gordon could have registered a brace inside the opening 15 minutes.
Alexander Isak – 4 – This reunion with his former club was cut short. Isak who started lively went off with a suspected injury.
Miguel Almirón – 5 – An energetic start from the Paruguayn but he couldn’t sustain his momentum.
Callum Wilson (for Isak 15) – 5.5 – He really should have scored before the hour mark. Unmarked the Newcastle marksman fired straight at Kobel.
Jacob Murphy (for Joelinton 65) – 4 – How terribly sad, Murphy was on the pitch for three minutes before picking up what seemed to be a shoulder injury.
Sandro Tonali (for Longstaff 65) – 4.5 – Made an important, if not great, clearance from a Hummels cross but the Dortmund defender was offside.
Joe Willock (for Murphy 70) – N/A – A late sub.
Matt Targett (for Burn 70) – N/A – A late sub.
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Gregor Kobel – 8.5 – Produced two excellent saves to first deny Gordon and then Wilson the latter a brilliant reflex stop.
Ramy Bensebaïni – 7 – You can’t say he didn’t put in a shift. No one who started today’s game won possession on more occasions than Bensebaïni who had to keep tabs on the flying Trippier.
Nico Schlotterbeck – 7.5 – Played an integral role in Dortmund’s opener. First displacing Gordon, before carrying on his run forward after leaving the ball with Reus, once regaining possession it was a simple pass for Nmecha who did the rest.
Mats Hummels – 6.5 – It’s obvious he’s lost a yard of pace but the wily German centre-back still reads the game as well as anyone.
Marius Wolf – 6 – First man into Artur Manuel Ribeiro Soares Dias’ book after bringing down Almirón ten minutes before half-time.
Felix Nmecha – 7 – Scorer of Dortmund’s first Champions League goal of the season. It came on the stroke of half-time when he brilliantly finished off a flowing move.
Emre Can – 5 – Deplyed in the holding role Can had to come off with a suspected knee injury. He completed 21 of his 26 attempted passes.
Marcel Sabitzer – 6 – Tasked with Dortmund’s set-pieces the one-time Man Utd loanee tailed off following a bright start.
Donyell Malen – 6 – Had the game’s first meaningful chance but the Dutch forward couldn’t guide his effort past Pope who deflected it away. He finished with seven attempts on goal with three on target.
Niclas Füllkrug – 5 – He reacted well following Pope’s save on a Malen shot but couldn’t guide the ball either side of Newcastle’s number one. He was hardly featured aside from that one moment.
Marco Reus – 6.5 – No question that his best days are behind him but on today’s brief showing Reus was more help than hindrance.
Salih Özcan (for Can 43) – 5.5 – Continued from where Can left off by sitting in front of Dortmund’s backline while retaining and recycling possession.
Karim Adeyemi (for Reus 63) – 5 – Newcastle would have done their homework knowing full well if they weren’t careful his lightning speed could put them in danger.
Niklas Süle (for Malen 78) – N/A – A late sub.
Sébastien Haller (for Füllkrug 78) – N/A – A late sub.
Giovanni Reyna (for Nmecha 78) – N/A – A late sub.