A good performance from Newcastle tonight when we easily beat Celtic 4-1 at St. James’ Park in Sam Allardcye’s first home game as manager.
The game was won in the first half when two opportunist goals from Spaniard Albert Luque and one from Oba Martins had Newcastle 3-0 up at the break – and it was fully deserved.Â Best performances from a Newcastle viewpoint were probably from Geremi, Solano and James Milner. Albert Luque also deserves credit for hitting two goals from his striker position alongside Martins in the first half.
We don’t seem to have a lot of trouble scoring goals but we still need more experience at the back and we’re sure we’ll be able to get the 2-3 defenders we need to give us a good solid squad for next season.
Albert Luque – scored 2 goals in first half
Albert Luque won a starting place in attack as he made his first pre-season appearance for Newcastle against Celtic, the Scottish Champions at St.James’ Park tonight. Shay Given now fully recovered from a slight heel injury returned in goal – and he was again given the captain’s armband against his former club.
Peter Ramage partnered Rozehnal in central defense with 19-year-old Paul Huntington 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 also 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 startingÂ line ups are 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 – for which Luque shows one or two nice touches early on with good applause from the crowd – 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.Â Â Ramage rescued 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 rampant applause of the Newcastle fans.Â The first half finishes with Newcastle easily deserving of their 3-0 lead and Albert Luque has certainly made the most of his first team start to ram in two good goals.
On 53 minutes a weak back pass by Naylor plays in young Andy Carroll – who had anticipated the pass well – but keeper Brown recovered well and raced off his line to deny Carroll from just eight yards out.Â Taylor and Hesselink both go for a ball in the air on the edge of the penalty area after the hour mark, and the ball drops nicely for the Dutchman whose shot shot spins wide as Taylor recovered well to put off the striker.
Nicky Butt then gave the ball to Milner who with his back to the goal and 30 yards out, spun clear to hit a wonderful effort that has the fans on their feet – before flying just inches wide of Brown’s right-hand upright.Â On 65 minutes Oba Martins leaves the game to a standing ovation with 19 year-old Ausie James Troisi replacing him.Â Â Â On 70 minutes our 19 year-old Canadian David Edgar makes his first appearance of the pre-season with David Rozehnal making way on what was his first game at St. James’ Park.
After 72 minutes Celtic got a goal back when Naylor’s cross finds McGeady unmarked on the edge of the area, and the winger nicely chips the ball to Scott Brown who rises above DavidÂ Edgar to power his header into the top corner giving keeper Shay Given no chance.Â There’s another close shave for Newcastle on 75 minutes when Miller crosses the ball across Given’s goal but it runs free to the relief of Newcastle’s spreadeagled defense.
Nicky Butt then leaves the field – and with all substitutions having been made Newcastle are down to 10 men. But after 80min – Steve Harper is sent up front for United so the team is back to 11 men. Steve gets a good hand from the Newcastle fans when he comes on.
On 84 minutes Celtic’s Miller springs clear but has to check his run as Taylor recovers well and Shay Given manages to deflect the ball up and over the cross-bar with his legs to deny Celtic a second goal.
Steven Taylor has to leave the field after 88 minutes with an ankle injury and we hope it’s not a reoccurrence of the injury he has just recovered from. 6′ 3â€ Andy Carroll goes to centre-back and substitute goalkeeper Steve Harper is left up front as the only attacking force.
In extra time goalkeeper come striker Steve Harper gives a nice lay-off – and the ball finds its wayÂ to N’Zogbia on the halfway line and the 21 year-old drives forward before feeding James Milner on the left. The NewcastleÂ winger cuts in and beats keeper Brown nicely from 20 yards. The whistle then blows almost immediately to end a good display from Newcastle in their first game at St. James’ under new manager Sam Allardcye.
Good performances from a number of the Newcastle players which is pleasing. But we also had Nicky Butt and Steven Taylor leave the field with injuries and we don’t know how severe these are. Certainly we have to hope they are just knocks and they were taken off by Sam as a precaution.
Overall a nice win with some good football – but we have to remember this is only pre-season. However, we look forward to the game against Juventus on Sunday – that should be another good game and a good test for United.