Newcastle United held Milan to a 0-0 draw at San Siro in their first Champions League outing since 2002/23. The Italians were a far better side but couldn’t capitalize on their chances.
Milan knew what they were supposed to do after Inter humiliated them in Saturday’s Derby della Madonnina. Stefano Pioli’s men enjoyed a flying start tonight, taking control of proceedings from the get-go and making Newcastle look like a second-tier team. But they couldn’t reap any rewards.
Despite creating numerous clear-cut scoring chances and dominating possession, Milan couldn’t find a way to beat Nick Pope. The first presentable opportunity came in the 12th minute. Olivier Giroud latched onto the rebound inside Newcastle’s box but saw Pope deny him with a fabulous save.
Rafael Leao and Samuel Chukwueze wasted a couple of decent chances in the follow-up, with Pope coming up huge on numerous occasions to keep Newcastle afloat. He didn’t have to make a save in the 32nd minute as Giroud failed to hit the target from point-blank after getting on the end of Theo Hernandez’s inch-perfect low cross.
The chances kept coming for Milan in the remainder of the first half. Tommaso Pobega unleashed a thunderbolt from mid-range in the 34th minute, forcing Pope to make another stunning diving save to thwart his effort. The Italians came close to scoring from the resulting corner kick, but Hernandez’s header rattled off Pope’s gloves.
Leao could’ve been the hero as he danced his way past several Newcastle defenders. However, when he should’ve finished his brilliant solo action, the Portuguese winger went for sensational and blew up everything he did well in the build-up. He tried to score a backheel goal but ended up embarrassing himself.
After failing to convert countless chances in the opening 45 minutes, Milan found scoring opportunities at a premium in the second half. Newcastle gained a foothold in the game. Despite failing to create anything meaningful in the front third, the Magpies allowed Rossoneri a handful of chances in the second 45 minutes.
Second-half substitute Tijjani Reijnders made an astonishing solo run after picking up the ball at the halfway line. Unfortunately, he failed to generate enough power when attempting a low shot from the edge of the box. Leao came close to breaking the deadlock after connecting his diving header with Alessandro Florenzi’s delivery from the flank, but the ball flew a whisker over the crossbar.
Milan tried again through Giroud. The Frenchman collected a loose ball in his own half and instead of playing it out to Leao, he decided to give it a go from distance. His shot finished in Pope’s safe pair of gloves as another chance for Rossoneri went begging.
Newcastle couldn’t do anything in attack before Marco Sportiello took Mike Maignan’s place between the sticks in the latter stages of the game. The French goalkeeper had to leave the pitch due to injury, with the ex-Atalanta stopper filling the void. Sportiello came to Milan’s rescue in the dying seconds, pulling off a vital save to deny Sean Longstaff’s shot from just inside the box.
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