By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Managing Editor
At St. James' Park
Newcastle United Legends 0
AC Milan Glorie 0
(Milan win 2-1 on penalties)
AC Milan Glorie triumphed from the penalty spot against a Newcastle United Legends side at a near-capacity St. James' Park on Wednesday night.
Fittingly, on an evening in celebration of a goalkeeper - marking Steve Harper's 20 years of service for the Magpies - the teams played out an entertaining goalless draw all in aid of charity.
Andrew Cole went closest for the hosts, hitting the inside of the post, while Lee Bowyer, Nolberto Solano, Tino Asprilla and Paul Kitson also threatened.
Milan had their chances too, as Paolo Maldini, Maurizio Ganz and Christian Lantignotti almost broke the deadlock for the Italian giants.
But it wasn't to be and the game went to penalties.
Peter Beardsley and Asprilla were denied by Massimo Taibi, while Paolo Di Canio and Alessandro Costacurta slotted past Pavel Srnicek from the spot.
Harper was third up for the Magpies and was also unable to beat the Italian stopper, but Srnicek kept the contest alive with a save from Massimo Oddo.
Alan Thompson gave United hope, before Srnicek again saved, this time from Roberto Lorenzini. But Joey Barton's miss meant a 2-1 spot-kick win for AC Milan Glorie.
In front of more than 50,000 supporters, man of the moment Harper was called into action early on, rushing off his line to smother at the feet of Ganz but Newcastle threatened at the other end with Nolberto Solano curling a trademark free-kick over the wall but not past Sebastiano Rossi.
Soon after, Les Ferdinand nodded Solano's right-wing cross narrowly off target, while David Ginola shot wide from distance.
Harper was at his best midway through the half, first flying full-length to his right to claw away Paolo Maldini's strike, before - from the resulting corner - keeping out Ganz's half-volley.
Substitute Faustino Asprilla threatened to break the deadlock in stunning fashion, meeting a Ruel Fox cross with a bicycle kick, but saw his inventive effort blocked by the Milan defence.
And Lee Bowyer went even closer, driving goalwards from 20 yards but seeing his impressive shot tipped around the upright by legendary stopper Rossi.
Within three minutes of the restart Newcastle had the ball in the back of the net as Asprilla headed home Keith Gillespie's cross in front of a packed Gallowgate. However, their joy was cut short by a raised linesman's flag, signalling the enigmatic Colombian offside.
At the other end, a brilliant Darren Peacock block prevented Christian Lantignotti's shot finding the far corner, before Mark Van Bommel blazed high and wide from 25 yards.
Nikos Dabizas and Andrew Cole both found the back of the Gallowgate Stand rather than the back of the net, while one of the biggest cheers of the evening was reserved for an "accidental", mis-timed challenge by Joey Barton on Paolo Di Canio, which left the evening's pantomime villain on his backside.
Within seconds of his introduction, Alan Thompson let fly from long range, forcing Massimo Taibi to turn it over the top, and the one-time Manchester United goalkeeper produced another fine save moments later, this time from Paul Kitson's flicked header.
Taibi could do nothing to stop Cole's angled drive with time running out, but unfortunately for the prolific front man, his effort struck the inside of the post before rebounding to safety.
With five minutes remaining, Gary Speed's sons Ed and Tommy entered the fray in memory of their late father and Tommy was immediately inches away from connecting with a Dabizas cross.
And that was the final action, with the match ending and settled from the penalty spot.
Newcastle United Legends: (4-4-2): Steve Harper (Shay Given 25, Pavel Srnicek 60); Nolberto Solano (Steve Watson 52, Steve Stone 72), Darren Peacock (Brian Kilcline 52, Olivier Bernard 73), Nikos Dabizas, John Beresford (Alessandro Pistone 35); Ruel Fox (Keith Gillespie 35, Paul Kitson 67), Lee Bowyer (Joey Barton 60), Rob Lee (Nicky Butt 35, Kevin Nolan 60, Ed Speed 75), David Ginola (Scott Sellars 52, Alan Thompson 67); Alan Shearer (Peter Beardsley 46, Tommy Speed 75), Les Ferdinand (Faustino Asprila 20, Andrew Cole 46)
Subs not used: n/a
AC Milan Glorie: Sebastiano Rossi (Massimo Taibi 41); Giuseppe Pancaro (Pietro Vierchowod 51), Giuseppe Favalli, Franco Baresi (Roberto Mussi 42), Paolo Maldini; Massimo Oddo (Ibrahim Ba 51), Alessandro Costacurta, Mark Van Bommel (Roberto Lorenzini 79), Gianluigi Lentini (Daniele Massaro 51); Paolo Di Canio, Maurizio Ganz (Christian Lantignotti 41)
Sub not used: Angelo Carbone