Newcastle emerged as 3-1 winners from their penultimate friendly game against German side VfL Wolfsburg earlier this week. The toon had won every game bar two before this one, (drawing 1-1 at Preston and losing 2-1 at Mainz,) however most people assumed Newcastle would be defeated again in this game. They were wrong.
Newcastle's lineup seemed like a "second first team", Mitrovic started up front by himself with Ayoze Perez behind him, Rob Elliot started in goal instead of Darlow, with a back four that consisted of Manquillo, Lejeune, Clark and Dummett. Shelvey and Hayden played alongside each other in the central midfield position. And finally, Ritchie and Atsu started on the wings.
So what happened?
Well, Newcastle started a lot better than they did against Mainz, within minutes Newcastle had their first chance of the game, as Ritchie sent a low cross into Aleksander Mitrovic basically putting him through on goal in the box. But, instead of shooting straight away, he took a touch further inside (for some reason) followed by a very poor shot straight to the keeper. Annoying but much preferred from the start against Mainz last weekend.
More attacks were to come, with Jonjo Shelvey being the creator of most of them. Including playing Matt Ritchie into the box early on, but he was closed down and tackled by two Wolfsburg defenders. And in the 17th minute, Jonjo Shelvey tried to score from his own half, but the shot was low and wide. A poor effort.
Our attacking domination wouldn't last forever though, as Wolfsburg soon applied the pressure. Turkish international Yunus Malli saw his free kick bend just inches over the top right corner before 18-year-old Victor Osimhen headed the ball just past the post. It was looking shaky for the magpies for a short while.
But he somewhat restored some kind of dominance, as on the 33rd minute, Mitrovic again received a cross putting him through on goal, this time from Ayoze Perez. And once again, instead of shooting first time he took a touch and laid it on to Shelvey, however his shot went wide of the left post.
The spotlight seemed to be on Mitrovic in the first half as just 1 minute later, another incident involving him occurred, as Wolfsburg keeper Max Grun tried to clear the ball from a back pass, the ball hit off Mitrovic before Grun seemed to tackle Mitrovic to the ground.
This is where his 'bad boy antics' kicked in. Mitrovic started screaming at the referee before 'appearing' to kick the goalkeeper. I personally think that he didn't see or notice he was there because of his anger towards the referee, but from the roar of the crowd and what the referee must've heard, he was very lucky to remain on the pitch. His stroke of luck also brought us great joy, as just 2 minutes later he had scored. Atsu crossed it into him before he tapped it in, taking a HUGE deflection off the Wolfsburg defender, to the point where it would be considered as an own goal. Nevertheless the goal went to Mitrovic and it was a relief to see us finally get a goal in after all the missed opportunities
But Newcastle weren't done there, with just minutes left of the first half, Matt Ritchie took a fabulous free kick that went straight into the top right corner to put us two ahead before the break.
In the second half it all seemed to switch around in terms of possession, and in the 50th minute Wolfsburg got a penalty! As Paul Dummett slightly pulled back Yunus Malli, which made the Turkish midfielder jump straight onto the floor, making the referee point to the spot. Malli took the penalty and scored it by sending Rob Elliot the wrong way. 2-1.
As the second half went on it was looking more and more likely that Wolfsburg would score, with them creating (and squandering) chance after chance. This all changed with 67 minutes on the clock when Javier Manquillo played a fantastic 30-yard long ball to Jonjo Shelvey, who proceeded to dribble into the box and play it across to Christian Atsu, who tapped it in to make it 3-1.
with 20 minutes to go Newcastle brought on 8 players (Darlow, Gámez, Lascelles, Mbemba, De Jong, Merino, Murphy and Aarons) in replacement for Elliot, Manquillo, Lejeune, Dummett, Atsu, Hayden, Ritchie and Pérez.
Merino made a great impact by doing a fabulous outside the foot through ball to Rolando Aarons on the counter attack. It will be interesting to see how he will preform in the premiership giving that he played some first team football at Dortmund
On the 83rd minute right midfielder Vieirinha almost scored a screamer from his own half, but Karl Darlow stretched out to put it behind for a corner.
Not much happened after that, and the whistle blew with the magpies claiming a comfortable victory, our next game will be played today against Hellas Verona at SJP. Home sweet home. And hopefully the match will leave us excited for the first game back in the premiership.