HIGHLIGHTS: Mainz 2-1 Newcastle: Magpies slip to pre-season defeat in Germany

Newcastle fell to their first defeat of pre-season today, suffering a 2-1 defeat to Bundesliga side Mainz at the Opel Arena.

STARTING XI (4-2-3-1): Darlow – Yedlin, Lejeune, Clark, Dummett (c) – Colback , Diame – Ritchie, De Jong , Murphy – Mitrovic 

SUBS: Woodman, Shelvey, Gayle, Hayden, Aarons, Mbemba, Perez, Gamez, Manquillo, Atsu, Merino.

Five minutes in and we were behind. Mainz cut through the United midfield and a ball in behind a half asleep Paul Dummett saw Levin Öztunalı convert past the onrushing Karl Darlow.

We did then responded with a few chances of their own, with Mo Diame expertly picking out Siem De Jong who brought the ball down well but saw his point blank shot beaten out by Mainz stopper Rene Alder.

A chance then fell to Aleksandar Mitrovic moments later, but the Serbian could only head over a Paul Dummett’s dangerous cross:

Whilst it was a relatively strong side fielded once again by Benitez, it’s fair to say that Jonjo Shelvey’s creative presence was sorely missed in the first half, with the static and sluggish Aleksandar Mitrovic providing little threat up top in the sub 30 degree heat, seeing NUFC go in 1-0 down at the break.

Mid-way through the second half Newcastle got the equaliser, with a comical Jesus Gamez goal making it 1-1 after some good play down the right from Christian Atsu – who caused Mainz no end of problems during his brief cameo.

Freddie Woodman did no harm in his bid to impress Benitez in the second half, pulling off this smart save to keep Mainz at bay:

New boy Mikel Merino then made his United debut with just over 10 minutes to play, but not in his most familiar midfield role, with the Spaniard replacing the impressive Florian Lejeune at centre-back:

Then, with little over 5 minutes remaining, some loose defending allowed former Middlesbrough winger Viktor Fischer finished expertly so give Mainz a 2-1 win:

The sweltering conditions didn’t help, and the game wasn’t played at a frantic pace as a result, but Mainz did represent our toughest opposition of pre-season thus far, seeing some sloppy mistakes rightfully punished.

Jacob Murphy had his moments, showing his direct style and ability to beat a man, however it was also clear that he is a player who must be nurtured, with several signs that he is still very much a work in progress.

Christian Atsu impressed and caused Mainz all sorts of problems in the second half, whilst Matt Ritchie was typically busy and full of beans in his first half outing.

It had a ‘friendly’ feel to it and was still a decent work out in the heat, but also a brief reality check for Rafa with some lessons to be learned.

Next stop, Wolfsburg on Wednesday.

(Fancy writing for us? Send any articles/ideas over to us at NUFCblogsubmissions@gmail.com & we’ll get back to you!)

About Olly Hawkins

Olly has been a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan - he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.

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