The key Newcastle United absences as Sean Longstaff and Chris Wood secure Real Vallecano win
Eddie Howe’s side, preparing for Tuesday night’s fourth-round Carabao Cup tie against Bournemouth, won 2-1 in front of an impressive 34,956 crowd at a chilly St James’s Park thanks to an early strike from Sean Longstaff and a second-half penalty from Chris Wood.
“It was really good, just the test we needed,” said Howe. “Vallecano have been very good this season, a really strong team. They play, in essence, like a Premier League team, a very aggressive, front-foot team.
"I thought there was some really good stuff from us, especially in the first half. The second half was a bit bitty with a lot of substitutions. Overall, very pleased.
Howe, without 16 first-team players, had fielded a strong starting XI and an inexperienced bench for the game, which followed a 5-0 win over Al Hilal in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia last week.
Miguel Almiron, Joelinton and Bruno Guimaraes were among the notable absentees at St James’s Park. Nick Pope and Kieran Trippier, back from England duty, started the game.
Dan Burn, Fabian Schar and Loris Karius were also not involved along with club-record signing Alexander Isak, yet to return from a long-term thigh injury. Matt Ritchie, Paul Dummett and Elliot Anderson watched the game from the directors’ box.
Pope, a substitute at the World Cup, was quickly called into action. The goalkeeper tipped over an early shot from Raul de Tomas Gomez.
Newcastle, led by Jamaal Lascelles, quickly capitalised on Pope’s save. A right-wing Trippier cross wasn’t properly cleared, and Jacob Murphy found Longstaff just inside the six-yard box, and the midfielder shot into the roof of the net from a tight angle.
Allan Saint-Maximin – who returned to full fitness before the World Cup break – was a threat from the left.
United pressed for a second goal, and Stole Dimitrievski beat away a shot from Murphy in the 30th minute. They couldn’t get another breakthrough, and Howe’s side took their one-goal advantage into the break.
Newcastle’s young substitutes were out warming up during the interval, but Howe sent out an unchanged side for the second half.
United dominated the ball, but didn’t add to their lead until the 68th minute. Referee Tom Bramall pointed to the spot after Joe Willock was brought down in the box, and Wood – who had recovered from the back injury he suffered against Al Hilal – put the ball in the top left-hand corner.
Former Newcastle defender Florian Lejeune was embraced by Howe before going on for the visitors, who halved the deficit through a Matt Targett own goal.
Howe – who had spent some time at the Madrid club while out of work – sent on Dylan Stephenson and Jay Turner-Cooke – they replaced Wood and Jonjo Shelvey – and Lewis Miley replaced Trippier late in the game.
United’s “mini” pre-season is now complete, and the club
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Pope, Trippier (L Miley, 83), Lascelles, Botman, Targett, Shelvey (Turner-Cooke, 77), S Longstaff, Willock, Murphy, Saint-Maximin, Wood (Stephenson, 77). Subs not used: Gillespie, Brookwell, Carlyon, Scott, Crossley, Ndiweni, A Murphy.