Eddie Howe Commends Newcastle Players for Sacrifice in Champions League Draw against AC Milan, Rejects Claims of Luck

Eddie Howe has denied that his Newcastle team got lucky after a battling draw to open their Champions League campaign in Milan.

The home side had 26 efforts on goal but found goalkeeper Nick Pope in inspired form, especially during a first half in which he made seven saves.

Newcastle resisted Milan’s pressure after the break to protect a point on their return to the competition after 20 years away.

And Howe said: ‘I didn’t think the draw was lucky on our part. I was slightly disappointed with the way we played with the ball.

‘But I thought the way we defended was commendable with our blocked shots and how many times we threw ourselves in front of the ball. We were determined to defend our goal.

Newcastle boss Eddie Howe salutes the travelling fans after Tuesday’s draw with AC Milan

AC Milan could not find a way past Nick Pope in Newcastle's goal as the Magpies held on

AC Milan could not find a way past Nick Pope in Newcastle’s goal as the Magpies held on 

Rafael Leao wasted a glorious chance for Milan after a brilliant mazy run in the second half

Rafael Leao wasted a glorious chance for Milan after a brilliant mazy run in the second half

‘Yes, our goalkeeper played well, but it was a really good defensive display in a very hostile atmosphere and a very difficult place to come. You can’t underestimate the power of that draw.’

Pope’s heroics provided the foundation on a night when he had to be at his best to keep the Rossoneri at bay three days after keeping a clean sheet in a Premier League victory over Brentford.

Howe said: ‘I thought he was outstanding today. He was excellent against Brentford – although he didn’t have a lot to do – and his all-round game was at his highest level.

‘It’s no coincidence, two big displays and two clean sheets from him which is absolutely crucial to us. He was a huge part of our success last year and no doubt he’ll be the same this year.’

Newcastle might even have snatched victory at the death when midfielder Sean Longstaff forced a crucial save from substitute keeper Marco Sportiello deep into stoppage time, and Howe was not countenancing suggestions his side had been fortunate.

He said: ‘Everyone’s entitled to their opinion. I didn’t think the draw was luck. We were slightly disappointed with how we played with the ball tonight, but there are a lot of different reasons for that.’


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