Newcastle United 1 Royal Antwerp 1
Newcastle United drew 1-1 with Royal Antwerp in Sunday’s friendly at the Pinatar Arena in Spain.
Manager Rafa Benítez named a squad of 22 for the friendly at the end of his side’s four-day training camp, which was split into three periods of 45 minutes each as his side looked to retain their sharpness in the middle of a three-week break from Premier League action.
And Matt Ritchie’s fine goal after 40 minutes had put Newcastle in front against the Belgian side.
But in the final stage of the game, Alexander Corryn drew Antwerp level, though United had a golden chance to win it seven minutes from time when Ayoze Perez was hauled down in the box.
But Dwight Gayle saw his spot-kick saved and so, after 135 minutes of play, the two teams couldn’t be separated.
Florian Lejeune and Ritchie both had fleeting sights of goal early on, but couldn’t find the target with their headers. Jonjo Shelvey pulled a shot wide before Joselu went close to opening the scoring, glancing Massadio Haidara’s cross over the bar.
Mikel Merino and Shelvey then both tried their luck to no avail, but with 40 minutes gone they eventually broke the deadlock. Chancel Mbemba’s pass played in Ritchie, whose beautifully-weighted lob found the target to make it 1-0 at the end of the first 45.
Benítez made three substitutions at the break, with Isaac Hayden, Jamaal Lascelles and Ciaran Clark replacing Shelvey, Lejeune and Mbemba, and while Newcastle enjoyed plenty of possession – with Ritchie moved into the number ten role – clear-cut opportunities were at a premium.
It took just 30 seconds of the third and final period for the Belgian side to find a leveller, though. They returned for the third segment of the game with renewed intent, and substitute Corryn found the target, beating goalkeeper Nathan Harker – who was making his first team debut – to make it 1-1.
Benítez had made eight changes prior to the third period, with Harker and fellow debutant Victor Fernandez among them. It was Fernandez who almost put United back in front, but his low strike was well held by Kevin Debaty.
Then Gayle, another substitute, beat the offside trap and went one-on-one with Debaty, but the stopper denied him, saving well at his feet. Mo Diame tried his luck, but once again Debaty was equal to it, this time tipping the Senegalese midfielder’s effort over the bar.
Pérez fired wide and Clark saw his shot blocked, but despite their attacking endeavours – which culminated in Gayle’s late penalty being palmed away by the impressive Debaty – United had to settle for a draw as attentions turn to the Premier League clash with Huddersfield Town in a fortnight’s time.
Newcastle United: Martin Dúbravka (Nathan Harker 90); Javier Manquillo (DeAndre Yedlin 90), Chancel Mbemba (Jamaal Lascelles 46), Florian Lejeune (Ciaran Clark 46), Massadio Haïdara (Paul Dummett 90); Matt Ritchie (Kenedy 90), Jonjo Shelvey (Isaac Hayden 46), Mikel Merino (Mohamed Diamé 90), Jacob Murphy (Victor Fernández 90); Christian Atsu (Ayoze Pérez 90), Joselu (Dwight Gayle 90).