Dwight Gayle has penalty saved as Newcastle held to 1-1 draw in Spain

Matt Ritchie was on target as Newcastle United were held to a 1-1 draw by Royal Antwerp this afternoon.

Sunday, 18th March 2018, 12:52 pm
Updated Sunday, 18th March 2018, 12:55 pm
The players at kick-off time

The Belgian side came from behind at the Pinatar Arena in Spain, where the game was staged over three 45-minute periods.

Ritchie put Newcastle ahead in the first period, but Aleksandar Corryn levelled in the 91st minute.

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Dwight Gayle had a penalty saved in the final period after Ayoze Perez was brought down in the box.

Nathan Harker and Victor Fernandez, called up from the club's Under-23 squad, made their debuts in the fixture, which was arranged after Newcastle were left with a 21-day break between Premier League fixtures.

Rafa Benitez fielded a strong starting XI with Christian Atsu up front alongside Joselu.

Jonjo Shelvey started in midfielder alongside Mikel Merino, while Chancel Mbemba was handed a start in defence.

The players at kick-off time

January loan signing Islam Slimani, unavailable due to injury, watched the game from the stand.

Newcastle took the game to Antwerp in the first period. United dominated possession in the early stages, but didn't test goalkeeper Sinan Bolat. Joselu put a header wide, while Jonjo Shelvey wasn't far away with a direct free-kick.

Merino should have done better midway through the first period. Ritchie broke down the left and pulled the ball back for the unmarked midfielder, who directed a low shot at Bolat.

Newcastle got a deserved breakthrough with 40 minutes on the clock. Mbemba played the ball up from the back to Ritchie, who chipped the ball over Bolat.

The players at kick-off time

Benitez sent on Jamaal Lascelles, Ciaran Clark and Isaac Hayden for the second period.

United pressed for a second goal, and a handful of chances came and went as Benitez shouted instructions to his players.

The game was well-contested in midfield, where Ritchie harried Antwerp whenever they were in possession. Goalkeeper Martin Dubravka was a spectator for much of the half, and he was replaced by Nathan Harker for the final period.

Harker, however, had to pick the ball out of the net seconds after coming on for his debut after Alexander Corryn levelled.

Gayle, on for the final period, forced a save after being put through one-on-one with Bolat.

Victor Fernandez, also making his senior debut, combined well with fellow substitute DeAndre Yedlin on the right, but United couldn't get the ball to Gayle often enough.

Gayle did get the ball when Ayoze Perez was brought down in the box, but goalkeeper Kevin Debaty saved his 128th-minute penalty.

And the United couldn't net a late winner.

NEWCASTLE UNITED: Dubravka (Harker, 91); Manquillo (Yedlin, 91), Mbemba (Clark, 46), Lejeune (Lascelles, 46), Haidara (Dummett, 91); Ritchie (Fernandez, 91), Shelvey (Hayden, 46), Merino (Diame, 91), Murphy (Kenedy, 91); Atsu (Gayle, 91), Joselu (Perez, 91).