Allan Saint-Maximin catches eye in season-opening defeat for Newcastle United
Steve Bruce’s Newcastle United tenure got off to a losing start amid a protest against Mike Ashley at St James’s Park.
A second-half goal from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang gave Arsenal a 1-0 win at the stadium on the Premier League’s opening weekend.
Joelinton, Allan Saint-Maximin and Jetro Willems made their debuts in this afternoon’s match, which was played amid a torrential downpour.
Thousands of fans boycotted the game at a sodden St James’s Park, which kicked off after a protest outside the club shop against owner Ashley. The official crowd was 47,635, though the real attendance will have been lower given that that figure included non-attending season-ticket holders.
On the pitch, Newcastle gave as good as they got in the first half, Joelinton narrowly headed wide from a Matt Ritchie cross, while Jonjo Shelvey struck the post with a half-volley.
Martin Dubravka did well to turn a shot from Aubameyang at the other end of the pitch.
There was no stopping Aubameyang, however, in the second half. Ainsley Maitland-Niles skipped past substitute Willems after Paul Dummett played a poor pass upfield. He delivered a ball over captain Jamaal Lascelles to the unmarked striker, who beat the exposed Dubravka.
Newcastle, less organised after the withdrawal of Shelvey, never came back from that goal, though Saint-Maximin did add something to the team when he came on.
Bruce then sent on Saint-Maximin to a roar from the crowd, and United pushed for an equaliser. One-time Newcastle target Nicholas Pepe, signed by Arsenal for £72million in the summer, was sent on by Unai Emery in the 72nd minute.
Saint-Maximin attempted to inject some life into Newcastle, who struggled to come back form the goal.
There was no late comeback from United, who laboured in the last 20 minutes.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Dubravka; Manquillo, Schar, Lascelles, Dummett, Ritchie; Hayden, Shelvey (Willems, 53), Longstaff (Saint-Maximin, 66); Almiron, Joelinton. Subs not used: Darlow, Clark, Fernandez, Krafth, Muto.
ARSENAL: Leno; Maitland-Niles, Chambers, Sokratis, Monreal; Guendouzi, Xhaka; Mkhitaryan, Willock (Ceballos, 64), Nelson (Pepe, 71); Aubameyang. Subs not used: Martinez, Lacazette, Torreira, Luiz, Martinelli.