Newcastle enjoyed an excellent first half of their game against Celtic at St. James Park tonight going 3-0 up with goals from Oba Martins and two from the star of the first half – Albert Luque – who was given a starting berth up front with Oba Martins.
Albert Luque – scores 2 goals in first half
Albert Luque wins a starting place in attack as he makes his first pre-season appearance for Newcastle against Celtic, the Scottish Champions at St.James’ Park. Shay Given has now fully recovered from a slight heel injury and returns in goal – he is again given the captain’s armband against his former club.
Peter Ramage partners Rozehnal in central defense with 19-year-old Paul Huntington coming in at left-back. There are also home debuts for both David Rozehnal, the Czech International and Geremi, the Cameroon international who is partnering Nicky Butt in the center of midfield.
James Milner makes his first pre-season appearance and is on the left flank with Nobby Solano playing down the right. Martins is partnering Luque up front. Steven Taylor is on the Newcastle bench following his ankle injury sustained during the European Under-21 tournament, and it’s also good to see David Edgar back on the bench after his participation in the Under-20 World Cup competition representing Canada.
The starting Newcastle line up is as follows:
Shay Given (captain), Stephen Carr, David Rozehnal, Peter Ramage, Paul Huntington, Nobby Solano, Geremi, Nicky Butt, James Milner, Oba Martins, Albert Luque
Artur Boric, Lee Naylor, Maciej Zurawski, Scott Brown, Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink, Massimo Donati, John Kennedy, Stephen McManus (captain), Paul Caddis, Paul Hartley, Aiden McGeady
Referee: Mark Halsey
After a bright start Newcastle – in which Luque shows one or two nice touches – Newcastle open the scoring after just 11 minutes. A Stephen Carr run seems to be stopped by McManus in the penalty area, but the ball runs loose and Solano quickly picks out Oba Martins around the penalty spot, and Oba hits it first time right-footed low to keeper Boric’s left.
After 30 minutes Newcastle go 2-0 up when James Milner picks out Luque unmarked and eight yards from Boruc’s goal. The Spaniard makes no mistake with a left-foot volley that finds the back of the net. This is a good start by Luque and it’s obvious he is ready for this game.
Shay Given makes his first save after 33 minutes pushing over a drive from McGeady and Carr clears the resulting corner. On 35 minutes Geremi puts Luque clear in the inside left channel with a great ball – and the Spaniard volleys goalwards but his effort just dips over the crossbar â€“ with the Newcastle crowd on their feet.
Ramage rescues Newcastle after 40 minutes as the ball runs to Hesselink and the Dutchman should have scored from close range, but a wonderful sliding intervention on the goal-line from Ramage saves the day.
Then after 42 minutes that man again – Albert Luque â€“ scores his second goal. Nobby Solano delivers a beautiful right wing ball to Luque at the far post, and Luque finishes well with a left-footed first-time shot from six-yards. Obviously delighted the Spaniard spins away to the ramapnt applause of the Newcastle fans.
The first half finishes with Newcastle easily deserving of their 3-0 lead and Albert Lueue has certainly made the most of his first team start to ram in two good goals.
If this is what Sam can bring out of Luque after just a few weeks in training – we cannot wait for what’s next from the Spaniard.