Newcastle 1 Atalanta 0 – Friday 29 July 2022 (7.45pm)
Fair to say that not many fans would have guessed the starting eleven and also fair to say that even fewer of those supporters paying to watch the game, would have selected this team.
Disappointment that none of the likes of ASM, Wilson and Bruno G were playing.
With the Athletic Bilbao match kicking off only 17 hours after tonight’s game would end, fans wondering how Eddie How would use his squad.
Rather than playing a number of first teamers in part of both matches, Eddie Howe seemingly intent on putting a different team of first team squad players on the pitch for all / most of each game, then filling the bench with kids who may or may not get some minutes towards the end.
Up against a team who finished eighth in Serie A last season, played Champions League football and got to the quarter finals of the Europa League, Newcastle up against decent opposition.
The first 25 minutes were really scrappy, both teams giving the ball away repeatedly, but Atalanta having the better of it. Nick Pope making a couple of decent saves.
Around the 20-25 minute mark, Trippier and then Targett were the victims of what looked really poor challenges. Both needed quite lengthy treatment on the pitch before gingerly walking off. Thankfully both able to continue but this looking a quite physical match, which Eddie Howe won’t mind, so long as it doesn’t result in injuries.
This period of stop and start to treat the injuries seemed to be a turning point, as Newcastle seemed to at last settle a bit and started to look after the ball.
Pressure began to build for Newcastle United and on 32 minutes a Targett header back across goal looked sure to result in a goal for either him or Wood who was closing in on the line, only for a defender to somehow clear it from under his own bar.
United now looking a lot better and on 38 minutes a driving run into the box by Elliot Anderson was halted by a clear foul.
Chris Wood with a very confident penalty that gave the keeper no chance.
Jacob Murphy then putting a chance from the edge of the box wide and Newcastle finishing the half on top.
No changes at half-time and only a couple of minutes after the break, clever play from Anderson saw him create space on the edge of the box and his low left foot curling shot bringing a good save from the Atalanta keeper.
On the hour, a clever Anderson ball found Almiron just inside the box, he dropped his shoulder and burst past the defender with pace, his shot well stopped by the keeper with his foot.
Anderson, Sean Longstaff and Almiron all worked well together in the midfield after that opening 25 minutes and give some decent encouragement for the season.
Whisper it but I thought the longer the game went on, Chris Wood was linking play up well and played in teammates a couple of times with clever passes, one of those set up Targett who should have had a penalty as his shirt was pulled but he still got his shot off from not a great angle. The keeper making himself big and beating it away.
Atalanta pushed for the equaliser and had a fair bit of late pressure and corners, however, Newcastle defended really well and the first choice back four from last season making a great case to start against Forest. Interesting to see if Botman will force his way in immediately.
Nick Pope also had a good game, staying calm and dealing with a fair few crosses into the box and sweeping behind the defence.
Matty Longstaff got eight minutes and a few of the kids literally seconds without even touching the ball, so in reality a full game really for the starting eleven.
The only two players who didn’t really contribute much, were Fraser and Murphy. Otherwise, I think Eddie Howe will be well pleased with what he saw against decent level opposition.
Newcastle 1 Atalanta 0
Wood 39 pen
Newcastle team v Atalanta:
Pope, Trippier, Schar, Burn, Targett, Sean Longstaff, Anderson, Almiron, Murphy (Matty Longstaff 82) , Fraser (Bondswell 90) Wood (Stephenson 90)
Gillespie, De Bolle, Munoz, Turner-Cooke, A.Murphy, Miley
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