Newcastle United faced low expectations when they were drawn into a challenging Champions League group at the beginning of the season.
Drawn in the ‘Group of Death’ with some European super heavyweights but despite that, the return to European football drew optimism of a good campaign amongst the supporters.
The prospect of visiting Dortmund, Paris, and Milan excited the Geordies, even though advancing to the knockout stages seemed unlikely. However, their victory against Paris Saint Germain and the opening draw in Milan served as inspiration for the team, fuelling hopes of progressing further.
Defeat at St James’ Park to Borussia Dortmund took the gloss off Eddie Howe’s team’s progress with a hope for a turnaround in the reverse fixture. However, the yellow wall proved to be a wall too far for a depleted squad.
The final whistle at San Siro was being well watched in Germany and the north of England with Newcastle fans looking for hope to come from an enticing class between the two giants. But, what was the most favourable outcome of that match?
After the defeat, Newcastle supporters may have been hoping for Milan to secure a result that would keep their chances of advancing in the Champions League alive, albeit slim.
Perhaps they were even hoping for a draw or a PSG victory, which would have given the Premier League team a better opportunity to participate in European football after Christmas, specifically in the Europa League.
However, it was an impressive bullet header from Olivier Giroud that secured the win for AC Milan, thereby throwing the group wide open for the final two games.
At this point, all teams in the group have a chance to finish in the top two positions and advance. Stefano Piolo’s men’s victory placed Newcastle at the bottom with four points, Milan in third place with five points, and PSG in second place. Dortmund’s back-to-back victories top the group with seven points.
Advancement from the group is unfancied now and the club may be looking to target a third place to ensure European football is on the agenda come January. If that is the case then an away win for Mbappe & co would have been most welcome, or even a draw.
Had that happened, Newcastle would have looked for the home game against Milan as a potential straight shootout for 3rd place. A win would have guaranteed the drop-down to the Europa League on Matchday 6 and a more realistic chance of winning a trophy than the current competition.
What final result would you have wished for in the San Siro last night?