No more World Cup games to recap but definitely some international matches around the globe involving our beloved Magpies. That’s because we’re in the middle of the last in-season international break of the campaign, bringing friendlies and EURO qualifiers to the table.
Of course, this being Newcastle, a bunch of players have and will be involved in matchups during the past and upcoming days before either 1) attending a warm-weather camp or 2) returning to Tyneside to start training ahead of the clash against Man Red on April 2nd.
Here’s a recap of all that went on Monday, Mar. 27th, with more updates to come in the following days as games keep getting played throughout the final international break before the season ends in late May.
Garang Kuol (Australia)
Match: AUS vs Ecuador (Friendly)
After coming off the pine in Australia’s first game of the international break—also against Ecuador—a few days ago and scoring one goal in just 12 minutes of playing time, Kuol also started this one on the Socceroos bench.
Australia hit the ground running and put themselves up one on the scoreboard thanks to an early goal by Brandon Borrello (16th minute), but then Ecuador’s captain and Brighton’s main man Pervis Estupiñan decided enough was enough and flipped the table entirely.
Estupiñan scored the game-tying goal from the penalty spot in the 51st minute already after the break, and he saw his teammate William Pacho put Ecuador ahead after connecting with a ball from Junior Sornoza in the 65th minute. That was enough for Ecuador to earn a 2-1 victory away from home.
Kuol entered the pitch in the 69th minute, nine minutes earlier than he did last Friday in Australia’s 3-1 win, replacing Craig Goodwin. In his 20+ minutes of play, Kuol was perfect on the passing front going 7-for-7 but he had it harder dribbling foes, failing at it the couple of times he tried and also losing the ball seven times through the time he spent on the grass at Docklands Stadium.
Time to get back to Scottland, where the youngster is spending the second half of the season (he signed with Newcastle last December) on loan at Hearts, the next-best team in the country sitting third in the SPL table... 28 points behind 2nd-place Rangers and trailing league-leaders Celtic by 37. Sheesh...
Alexander Isak (Sweden)
Match: SWE vs Azerbaijan (Euro 2024 Qualifier)
Alexander Isak started again for Sweden in their second qualifier for the Euro 2024 final stage and blasted five goals past their opponents on Monday, one of them assisted by the young Magpie.
After dropping a stinker to Belgium 3-0 last Friday, Sweden recovered nicely with a complete domination of Azerbaijan on Monday to kick off the week and wrap up their first qualifying stint of the campaign.
Isak could have both scored and assisted a goal, but the former effort was disallowed for offside approaching the 30th minute of the first half. The “assist” arrived shortly after that when Isak put the ball across the box for Azerbaijan’s Bahlul Mustafazada to deflect that cross into his own net. Not the most optimal outcome, as the assist didn’t get recorded as an official one under Isak’s name, but what can you do?
The Newcastle forward left the pitch by the 71st minute with four shot attempts, a low-but-precise 9-of-13 on passes through the game, and having completed one dribble on the day while winning three of the four duels he entered.