Three short weeks ago Newcastle United put in one of the best performances of the last couple of seasons against PSG. Fast forward to Wednesday’s matchup against Borussia Dortmund and it all seemed a little flat and sloppy.
The atmosphere against PSG was electric and helped push the team on, it gave the players an extra few percent—yesterday’s, not so much.
Newcastle’s new ticketing system has become a gripe for those who’ve attended so many games over countless years, and who are now locked out of SJP in place of the tourist fan or hospitality.
Wor Flags have worked tirelessly to create an intimidating atmosphere for the opposition to play in but galvanises Eddie Howe’s side. This is all hampered when there are people in attendance who aren’t particularly bothered about supporting the team. It becomes flat and that transcends on the pitch, which is exactly what happened against Dortmund.
The German side have a lot of know-how in the Champions League, being runners-up ten years ago and with numerous appearances in the competition proving pivotal in yesterday’s clash.
We’ve talked about being street-wise with Newcastle and how they’ve improved that side of the game. Well, Dortmund were levels above in that aspect of the game.
It was a frantic opening ten minutes of the match with both sides coming close to an early opener. Nick Pope produced a brilliant double save before the tireless Anthony Gordon forced a save from Gregor Kobel.
Newcastle’s game plan went out the window when Alexander Isak had to come off in the 15th minute due to a reoccurrence of his groin problem. Callum Wilson replaced the Sweden international, a fantastic replacement to have but a completely different type of player and Newcastle had to adjust to that.
The midfield battle was being won by Dortmund with Newcastle struggling to get to the second balls and controlling the tempo.
As half-time approached, Dortmund struck what turned out to be the winning goal. Nico Schlotterbeck robbed Gordon to release Marco Reus who then slipped in the defender on the left, with his cross finding an unmarked Felix Nmecha to guide home expertly.
Twelve minutes after the break, Wilson had a golden chance to equalize. Gordon found him in the box but after taking one touch to steady himself he then prodded a shot at the outstretched Kobel who produced a fine save.
It seemed to be one of those nights for Newcastle, they hit the crossbar twice late on. It just wouldn’t go in for them.
A tight game in which Dortmund’s vast experience showed. This result leaves Group F wide open—the German side have moved up to second, dropping Newcastle to third with PSG topping the group after their victory over AC Milan.
This could be a positive outcome in a strange way. Last season when Newcastle had a setback they recovered and went on another unbeaten run. That’s exactly what they have to do now, starting with Wolves on Saturday evening.