Newcastle United 4 Paris Saint-Germain 1
Two years ago Sean Longstaff looked to be on his way out of Newcastle, almost certainly destined for a lower-division future, while Dan Burn could not be certain of a first-team place at Brighton.
Few crystal ball gazers would have predicted that particularly unlikely pair not merely joining Miguel Almirón and Fabian Schär in scoring against Paris Saint-Germain here but utterly eclipsing Kylian Mbappé and friends as Newcastle’s first home Champions League game for 20 years concluded amid unbridled Geordie joy.
With Kieran Trippier repeatedly second-guessing Mbappé's manoeuvres, Ousmane Dembélé soon becoming thoroughly disheartened by Burn’s assiduous attention at left back and Longstaff impressing enormously in central midfield, Eddie Howe choreographed a major disruption of the established European order.
It is easy to forget that when Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund bought Newcastle almost exactly two years ago, Howe was unemployed. Right now he looks nailed on for manager of the year.
Luis Enrique had described Newcastle as “a hostile but spectacular place to play” and, in creating a stupendous wall of noise, the home fans did not disappoint.
PSG’s manager had finished on the losing side here back in 1997 when Faustino Asprilla’s hat-trick earned Kenny Dalglish’s Newcastle a 3-2 Champions League win against Barcelona and he must have swiftly feared that history was repeating itself.
Even so, Luis Enrique’s current team should have scored as early as the fifth minute when Mbappé escaped Trippier for the first time and provided Dembélé with an inch-perfect cross. Geordie hearts were in mouths but, somehow, Dembélé contrived to miscue his volley and Howe breathed a little easier.
Newcastle’s manager was desperate for his team to make a fast start yet their initial attempts to summon up that hallmark ferocious press were regularly stymied by PSG’s knack of slowing the play down. Marquinhos particularly enjoyed teasing his hosts by lingering on the ball but, when he became overly relaxed and turned a bit slapdash, the visitors swiftly conceded the first goal.
It began with Bruno Guimarães heading Marquinhos’s badly weighted pass back into the area and Alexander Isak forcing Gianluigi Donnarumma to save with his legs. The ball out was met by the rapidly reacting Almirón who delighted in sweeping the crispest of left-foot shots beyond the goalkeeper’s reach before briefly leaping into the crowd. It was Newcastle’s first Champions League goal since Alan Shearer scored against Inter Milan at San Siro 20 years ago.
Small wonder Luis Enrique had said that Howe’s XI were “almost complete” and “the team in pot four that no one wanted”. They were certainly growing into the game and although Warren Zaïre-Emery was inches away from equalising, Schär came mighty close to doubling Newcastle’s advantage after directing Almirón’s cut-back fractionally wide.
There were moments when, by now playing in incessant rain, PSG looked as if they did not quite know what had hit them. Burn had his work cut out at left back but, incrementally, he seemed to be getting Dembélé's measure. When he memorably dispossessed the gilded winger courtesy of a thumping tackle the decibel level suggested Burn might have just scored the winning goal in the final.
He did score Newcastle’s second goal, heading Guimarães’s chip home at high velocity. No matter that Donnarumma’s fingertips eventually scrambled the ball clear – it had already clearly crossed the line.
Doubts remained as to whether Guimarães had been offside when he received Sandro Tonali’s pass though and if Jamaal Lascelles was guilty of a handball. Accordingly a lengthy VAR review ensued before it was determined that Marquinhos had played his fellow Brazilian onside and Burn could finally celebrate.
Despite PSG enjoying the bulk of possession Newcastle were not flattered by their lead. Indeed Howe’s biggest worry must have been that, as outstandingly as he played in certain cameos, Guimarães seemed to be powered by a surfeit of emotion and needed to slow himself down and start thinking.
The midfielder appeared fortunate to escape with a yellow card at the end of the first half after unnecessarily, recklessly shoving over Manuel Ugarte off the ball after catching the Uruguayan on the back of the head with an outstretched arm. Guimarães could hardly have complained had he seen red. The good news for Howe was that, alongside him, Tonali was playing with creditable maturity and intelligence.
The second half had barely begun before Newcastle fans found themselves walking in wonderland for almost the first time since Bobby Robson’s tenure two decades ago. This time Longstaff, like Burn a Tynesider, scored his side’s third goal.
After connecting with a fine diagonal pass from the excellent Trippier, the unmarked Longstaff unleashed an angled toe poke. Donnarumma seemed set to parry it but badly misjudged the ball’s flight and watched in horror as it flew into the top corner.
Before kick-off Luis Enrique had said he was envious of his players but now he seemed ready to eviscerate them. Even after Lucas Hernández headed Zaïre-Emery’s beautifully dinked delivery past Nick Pope to reduce the deficit, PSG’s manager still looked incandescent. Mbappé, meanwhile, appeared so fed up with Trippier he waved his arms towards the bench in an apparent gesture of despair. Shortly after that Luis Enrique relocated his star forward from the left wing to a central attacking role.
Undeterred by conceding their first goal in six games Newcastle resisted growing fatigue, scoring a fine fourth when Fabian Schär advanced from central defence in stoppage time. – Guardian