Eyes down for the numbers from Newcastle United’s return to Champions League football:
Nick Pope – 8 – an all round excellent performance from our goalie. Displayed a full range of goalkeeping expertise – reaction saves, doing the basics well, commanding on crosses and confident coming off his line. Transmitted confidence.
Kieran Trippier – 9 – as is commonly said – the best signing the club has made since the takeover in October ’21. Frankly, just immaculate! Oozes leadership and quality, flawless in his defending, organisation, supports attacking play and his experience is invaluable. I’d sell a kidney if it meant another decade of KT at RB. Superb.
Dan Burn – 6 – all heart and endeavour. Strong as an ox and a stout yeoman of the Geordie guard. Passing was a bit iffy at times which passed the initiative to Milan halfway through the first half but he’s part of a defensive wall that would not be breached. Let’s not underestimate his presence and heading ability.
Fabian Schär – 8 – never looked like anything other than at home playing for Newcastle United v AC Milan in the Champions League at the San Siro. He sent heart rates pumping with a few runs into the Milan half and his distribution from the back was quality. A good solid defensive performance against quality opposition. Again.
Sven Botman – 9 – with Trippier I felt, Sven was our elite performer tonight. It is absolutely no accident Milan legend Maldini wanted to take our Dutchman to the San Siro and it is our great good fortune we managed to persuade him to come to St James’ Park instead. What a player. Superb defensively in every way. Exudes calmness and leadership. A pivotal player for Newcastle United tonight and hopefully for the next decade.
Bruno Guimarães – 8 – born and bred for nights like these. Not his best performance in B&W but edging back to it and another step up again from the Brentford game. Used the ball well and clever in the midfield encounters. More to come if he did tire towards the end.
Sean Longstaff – 8 – absolutely tireless running. No wonder there’s not a picking on the kid. Gets all over the pitch. Perhaps guilty of looking for fouls rather than the advantage and maybe should have backed himself more in the first half in the box rather than that rather forlorn attempt at looking for a penalty. Almost sent us into the stratosphere with that shot at the end. Either side of the goalkeeper and …
Sandra Tonali – 7 – again more tireless running in a stadium, against opposition and in a competition he’s more than familiar with. An obviously emotional night for a lad who will remain a Milanisti all of his life and none of us should have any problem with that. I’m still not sure about how he’s being deployed – he’s a work in progress for Howe at present.
Anthony Gordon – 7 – a good first half and a constant threat to them but seemed to fade out of the game as Milan worked their way into it. Again, no stranger to grafting for the cause and was up and down the line all night. The lad has massive potential and this competition suits him.
Alexander Isak – 6 – not getting into games as he should be and its likely linked to the midfield not clicking as it should. He’s reliant upon balls from the wings and if they aren’t coming, he’s not getting much from the middle because Bruno is too deep. Again, he’s another who was bought for these nights and his day will come.
Jacob Murphy – 6 – no-one can knock his endeavour and the obvious joy he brings to the team through his raw enthusiasm should not be underestimated. The lad is making the most of his opportunity and has been a wonderful journey so it is impossible not be happy for him. Maybe should be doing more in vital positions – a bit wasteful in threatening positions. Gave everything for the cause.
Miguel Almirón – 8 – vital clearance when Milan looked like they were about to pull the trigger. Provided new energy when legs were tiring.
Elliot Anderson – 7 – loads of work-rate and running with Milan on top and looking for a goal.
Callum Wilson – 8 – came on to give the Milan backline something to think about and did.
Harvey Barnes – N/A – one of those to run the clock down and did. His nights in this competition will come.
Michael Martin, @TFMick1892