Defeat for Eddie Howe’s Mags as Dortmund did the double over Newcastle, leaving us with an uphill battle to qualify from Group F ahead of our trip to PSG later this month and home tie with AC Milan in December.
The Germans beat us at St James’ Park and were the better side in the first half, where Niclas Fullkrug made the most of some sloppy defending to stab home before Julian Brandt scored on the counter to make it two in the second half.
We improved in final 45 after a sloppy first half and had a HUGE chance to level through Joelinton, but the big man glanced wide from Livramento’s cross. The home side managed the game well and were decent value for their win, but the match may have hinged on that massive moment.
We’ve done superbly so far this season to cope with the volume of injuries and suspension, but perhaps these issues, the hectic schedule and our lack of Champions League experience caught up with us tonight, with just four of our starting 11 playing in the competition before this season.
They were strong defensively once again, however, it’s fair to say we should’ve done better with both of Dortmund’s goals, as we failed to pounce on loose balls for their opener and were caught exposed on the counter for their all-important second.
Howe sprung a few surprises with the team, seeing Tino Livramento, Lewis Hall and Joe Willock replace Dan Burn, Anthony Gordon and Miguel Almiron. A shock to see the latter pair on the bench, but a huge chance for summer signings Livramento and Hall, with the former starting just ahead of Trippier on the left wing.
Dortmund edged it in the early stages and were boosted by a booking for Lewis Hall before the 10-minute mark. Barely a foul, I thought, but hardly ideal when he was up against one of the quickest players in world football in Adeyemi. We didn’t settle, were second best to loose balls and struggling to string passes together, with Nmecha and Brandt causing problems in behind our midfield three.
Pope was called into action twice in the first half, beating away powerful efforts from Fullkrug and Adeyemi, giving shades of Milan as Newcastle were pushed back and forced to defend. The 24,000 strong yellow wall was in great voice and the hosts were in top. After a shaky start, we had to find some composure in possession, switch on and ride the storm.
For the first time in the match, we had a spell of possession and almost made it count, as a well-worked corner won by Wilson saw Trippier play it short to Hall. A back heel found our vice captain, who fired a low ball across the box. Wilson was in acres of space at the back post, but Trippier’s low cross just evaded him.
Minutes later, Dortmund took the lead. Schar was caught out of position, we failed to win a number of 50/50s in and around the box, Hall let the ball run across him and Sabizter’s bobbling cut-back across the box was poked high into the net by Fullkrug. Despite us slowly beginning to impose ourselves onto the game, it had been coming.
A hammer blow for Newcastle United! ????
— Football on TNT Sports (@footballontnt) November 7, 2023
Our first shot arrived on the half hour mark after forcing another corner, but Schar’s header lacked power and was easily gathered by Kobel. We weren’t getting any joy in wide areas, with Trippier starting poorly, Hall occupied by Adeyemi, Livramento contained well by Ryerson and the two Joe’s struggling to hit their stride down our left. A few balls over the top to Joelinton and Willock came close to getting us in behind, but we were struggling to reach our fluent best, despite enjoying more of the ball following Dortmund’s opener.
Our biggest chance of the half came just before the break, as Lascelles nodded a corner down to Joelinton. The Brazilian angled his header towards the top left corner, but it hung in the air and was comfortably caught by Kobel. 1-0 down at half-time and a huge final 45 to come. The response to going a goal down was decent, but our sloppiness on and off the ball was costing us at both ends.
Howe made two changes, as Wilson and Hall (on a booking) were replaced by Gordon and Almiron, seeing Livramento move to right-back and Trippier switch to the left. We looked all the better for it and came out fast, creating a big opening after Schar’s brilliant ball in behind found Livramento. His cut-back was into a dangerous area but it evaded green Newcastle shirts bursting into the box.
If we thought that was a chance, there were heads in hands on just before the hour mark as Livramento picked out an inch-perfect cross for Joelinton, who broke clear of his man but headed a golden chance wide. He HAD to score, but we had to keep going.
Dortmund had a spell of pressure, forcing Pope into action a couple of times, and the full-backs switched with 20 minutes to play, seeing Livramento move to left-back. Perhaps to cope with Adeyemi’s pace and allow Trippier to link with Almiron down the right, as he often does.
With 15 minutes to play we had to find another gear and go for it. We did that by committing bodies forward for a set piece won by Almiron, but it was cleared by Dortmund and a two vs one presented itself on the counter. Livramento tried his best and Willock tried to make up the ground, but Brandt shifted onto his left and fired past Pope. Naive defending and a brutal counter from the home side, who moved 2-0 up with 80 on the clock.
Dortmund double their lead! ????
— Football on TNT Sports (@footballontnt) November 7, 2023
Lewis Miley replaced Willock for his Champions League debut and we had a mountain to climb with 10 minutes left to play. Three minutes were added on and the Germans saw out a 2-0 win, sending them three points clear of Newcastle with AC Milan (A) and PSG (H) to come in their final two games.
Competing on three fronts with this many injuries was always a huge ask and it proved a step too far tonight. Even without the absentees, Dortmund were solid at the back once again, gave us very little joy in midfield and were decisive on the counter, breaking with speed and precision as they did to score at St James’ Park.
It wasn’t to be, but it isn’t over yet – even if it means beating PSG and Milan in our final two group games. If we can’t do that, a third-place finish and the Europa League is still on offer.
Next up for Newcastle, a trip to Bournemouth on Saturday night before the international break. Let’s just hope AC Milan lose at PSG in tonight’s 8pm kick-off.
STARTING XI: Pope – Trippier, Lascelles, Schar, Hall – Bruno, Longstaff, Joelinton – Livramento, Wilson, Willock.
SUBS: Dubravka, Karius, Dummett, L. Miley, De Bolle, Almiron, Gordon, Parkinson.