Newcastle 2-0 Hellas Verona – NUFC end pre-season in style with impressive win over Italians

Newcastle ended pre-season in impressive fashion today, with goals from Ayoze Perez and Christian Atsu sealing a convincing 2-0 win over Serie A side Hellas Verona at St. James’ Park.

Starting 11: Elliot – Manquillo, Lejeune, Clark, Dummett – Shelvey, Hayden – Atsu, Pérez, Ritchie – Mitrović

SUBS: Darlow, Gámez, Lascelles, Mbemba, Aarons, De Jong, Diamé, Merino, Murphy

We were missing last seasons top scorer Dwight Gayle (who was left out for precautionary reasons), but that didn’t derail our goal threat, with the opener arriving just 4 minutes in.

Jonjo Shelvey – who looked razor sharp once again – released new boy Javier Manquillo down the right, who’s perfectly placed cross was turned home cleverly by Ayoze Perez to put us 1-0 up.

The second came less than ten minutes later, with Verona failing to deal with Shelvey’s ball up to Aleksandar Mitrovic and running through to the onrushing Christian Atsu who smartly fired past the Verona goalkeeper to make it 2-0.

The game petered out a little in the second half, with Benitez making several changes, but we ran Verona ragged first half and rarely giving them any time on the ball throughout. We played with confidence and a spring in our step which bodes well ahead of the big kick off a week today.

New signings Javier Manquillo and Florian Lejeune were impressive. Manquillo looked comfortable on the ball and carried it well, made some great runs & linked up well with Ritchie down the right.

Lejeune put in another assured display. Appears to be very comfortable with the ball at his feet, looks to have solid positioning & made some timely and tidy interceptions.

He could well be the ball playing centre-back we’ve been missing for a few seasons now.

Mentions should also go out to Christian Atsu who looks full of confidence,  taking his goal well and continuing his highly promising pre-season form. Shelvey put in another effortless display, dictating the play and pinging around some stunning passes whilst Matt Ritchie was his typically busy and sharp self – he never stopped running and looking to make things happen all game.

Here’s what Rafa Benitez had to say after the game:

“It was an entertaining game for the fans.

“We scored two goals and had some chances, we tried to do what we wanted to do to be fair, move the ball quickly and not give it away. Little by little we were stronger than them.

“With the second half with substitutions they had more players with experience on the right-hand side.

“We had to manage with that. There are a lot of positives.

“It was a friendly and nothing to do with the Premier League but still we done what we needed to.”

A promising display and nice confidence booster in front of the home support ahead of next Sunday’s Premier League opener Spurs, who will no doubt offer a completely different test, but there was nonetheless some real positives to take from that one.

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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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