Rafael Leao missed a huge chance to let Newcastle off the hook as the Magpies’ Champions League opener at AC Milan finished goalless. The Portugal international, who was Newcastle star Sandro Tonali’s team-mate at San Siro until his £53million summer switch to Tyneside, completely fluffed his lines with only goalkeeper Nick Pope to beat after attempting an audacious flick at the end of a stunning 34th-minute run and only succeeded in tripping himself.
Pope will feel he had already earned his slice of good fortune after making five first-half saves in the space of six minutes to pave the way for a 0-0 draw which banked a priceless first point for the Magpies’ Group F account on their return to European football’s top table after an absence of 20 years.
For the seven-time winners, who were thrashed 5-1 by derby rivals Inter Milan on Saturday, there was no salvation on a night when they created enough chances, but were unable to take any of them, much to the annoyance of the locals among a crowd of 65,695.
AC Milan vs Newcastle latest updates
Kick-off: 5.45pm BST, San Siro
How to watch: TNT Sports
AC Milan team news: Loftus-Cheek in midfield
Newcastle team news: Isak leads the line
Score prediction: Narrow AC Milan win
AC Milan 0 - 0 Newcastle United FC
Nine saves tonight!
20:01 , Matt Verri
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) September 19, 2023
FT: AC Milan 0-0 Newcastle
19:42 , Matt Verri
Newcastle win another corner, but no time to take it. There’s the full-time whistle.
It’s a draw for the Magpies on their return to the Champions League - they’ll take that for sure.
19:40 , Matt Verri
90+5 mins: Newcastle nearly win it!
Their first shot on target of the match, as Longstaff fires at goal from the edge of the area. Tipped over the bar.
19:38 , Matt Verri
90+3 mins: Sensational from Trippier, slides in to halt the Milan counter and then manages to keep the ball in play too.
That’s not so impressive... Guimaraes knocks it straight out of play. Some very tired legs out there now.
19:36 , Matt Verri
90 mins: Barnes on for Isak, with the 90 minutes up.
How much stoppage-time will we get... five minutes.
19:33 , Matt Verri
88 mins: Big waste, Newcastle had space and numbers on the counter but they make a mess of it.
And now Milan can charge forward, it’s end-to-end all of a sudden. Giroud strikes at goal, straight at Pope.
19:31 , Matt Verri
86 mins: Newcastle dropping further and further back, with the look of a side that would snap your hand off for a point.
They still haven’t had a shot on target, but a draw would do nicely for them.
19:28 , Matt Verri
83 mins: Giroud clatters into his man in the air, throws his arms up in disgust and that’s a yellow card for dissent.
Challenge on Longstaff wasn’t a particularly bad one, but he let the referee know from about three inches away.
19:25 , Matt Verri
80 mins: Sportiello on for Milan, Maignan in goal for Milan has gone down and he’s unable to continue.
Not a sub the hosts wanted to be forced into making...
19:24 , Matt Verri
78 mins: Newcastle looking really vulnerable down their left now. Isak isn’t getting back in time, Florenzi has so much space out wide.
Again he clips a ball into the ball, falls for Hernandez at the back post but he slices his volley over the bar.
19:21 , Matt Verri
76 mins: Almiron with a brilliant challenge to knock the ball behind for a corner, Milan starting to press again.
Two shots blocked from the set-piece that follows, Hernandez catching his strike so sweetly but the black and white shirts throw themselves in the way.
19:19 , Matt Verri
74 mins: Biggest chance of the half, by a mile!
Florenzi with a great ball into the box, Leao has got inside Trippier but he heads over from close range. Should really have scored from there.
19:17 , Matt Verri
72 mins: Concern for Milan, Loftus-Cheek has gone down off the ball and will require treatment.
Looks like that’s the end of his evening, hopefully not a serious issue for the England midfielder. Musah on to replace him for the final 20 minutes or so.
19:15 , Matt Verri
69 mins: Milan struggling to get on the ball, they have dropped right off after dominating the first-half.
Newcastle enjoying a good spell, but unable to turn that into clear-cut chances yet. For now at least, they’re looking solid at the back though.
19:12 , Matt Verri
66 mins: Newcastle seeing lots of the ball, they’re happy to keep the pace of play relatively slow. Visitors have a decent sense of control at the minute.
Wilson has already had an impact, stretching the Milan defence with a couple of good runs in behind.
19:08 , Matt Verri
63 mins: Here are some Newcastle changes.
Almiron and Wilson on, Murphy and Gordon making way. That means Isak is shifting out to the left wing.
19:06 , Matt Verri
61 mins: Chukwueze off for Milan, Pulisic the man to replace him. Pobega also off as Reijnders comes on.
Howe not turning to his bench yet. Almiron, Barnes and Wilson among those waiting in reserve...
19:05 , Matt Verri
60 mins: Chance for Newcastle to break, Gordon leading the charge on the left.
Looks to play Isak in down the side of the Milan defence, too much on the pass though and Tomori can come across to take charge. Wasted opportunity that.
19:02 , Matt Verri
57 mins: It’s Krunic, not a huge amount of pace on the ball and big Burn can clear.
Milan will get another chance though, Newcastle losing their discipline in the last few minutes. Very similar position on the opposite side of the pitch.
Once again, Burn is there!
19:01 , Matt Verri
56 mins: Tonali penalised twice in about 20 seconds, getting stuck in against his former side. Chukwueze skipped past him and the Newcastle midfielder dragged him down.
Good position this out wide, Hernandez or Krunic can whip something into the box.
18:58 , Matt Verri
53 mins: Space opening up for both sides, Florenzi dragging his shot wide from distance.
Not going to stay goalless for much longer if this pattern continues...
18:57 , Matt Verri
51 mins: Speaking of questionable decisions...
Gordon switches the play out to the right, loads of space for Murphy. Trippier flying forward on the overlap, he’s completely free, but Murphy lashes an effort at goal from miles out. Way over the bar.
18:55 , Matt Verri
49 mins: Schar is shown a yellow card - that looks incredibly harsh.
Challenged in the air for the ball, beats Portega to win the header but the referee decides he had an elbow out. Not sure about that.
18:52 , Matt Verri
47 mins: Newcastle have started the half well, straight on the front foot.
Gordon lays the ball off for Tonali, he cuts onto his right foot and goes for goal from 20 yards out. Blocked.
18:50 , Matt Verri
Up and running in the second-half!
Florenzi on for Calabria at the break, as Milan make a half-time change.
18:42 , Matt Verri
Well the stats are certainly in Milan’s favour.
The hosts have had 15 shots, seven of which have been on target. Pope a busy man in the opening 45 minutes.
Just a couple of efforts for Newcastle, both of which were blocked. Howe will want much more from them in attack.
Can see how much it means!
18:37 , Matt Verri
— Football on TNT Sports (@footballontnt) September 19, 2023
HT: AC Milan 0-0 Newcastle
18:33 , Matt Verri
Well then, no added time at all and that’s the end of the first-half.
Goalless at the break, despite Milan having a number of really good chances. Newcastle still on level terms though.
18:30 , Matt Verri
42 mins: Milan starting to get frustrated, good signs for Newcastle. They’ve managed to survive a number of scares to keep themselves firmly in this match.
Need to make sure they do not fall behind in the final few minutes before the break.
18:28 , Matt Verri
40 mins: Calabria the first man into the book, he’s earned himself a yellow card for dissent.
That doesn’t slow him down, he’s still shouting at the official and pointing at his captain’s armband. Not sure that’s the defence he thinks it is.
18:25 , Matt Verri
37 mins: Madness that Milan haven’t scored in the opening 37 minutes.
Ball to the back post, Leao nods it back across the face of goal. Giroud gets a nudge as he goes for the bicycle kick, falls for Chukwueze instead and he heads over from close range.
18:21 , Matt Verri
34 mins: OFF THE LINE!
Newcastle somehow survive. Leao with brilliant footwork in the box, finds space for the shot but goes for a very ambitious backheel. Trips over himself.
The shots then come flying in, Murphy back on his own line to clear. Not convincing at all from the Magpies.
18:19 , Matt Verri
31 mins: Longstaff down again, this time he’s screaming for a penalty. Referee not interested.
Milan break, Hernandez played in down the left wing. He fires the ball to the near post, Giroud there but gets too much on the shot and it’s into the side-netting.
18:17 , Matt Verri
30 mins: Trippier stays down briefly, after getting clipped by Giroud. He’s fine to continue though, much to the relief of those in the Newcastle camp.
Magpies take the free-kick short, before Tonali then clips it long into the box. Loftus-Cheek heads it away to safety.
18:15 , Matt Verri
27 mins: Longstaff with a textbook flop onto the ball, only problem was he hadn’t been touched. Referee and everyone else watching could see that, no free-kick.
The midfielder does then get on the ball and stay on his feet, looks for Gordon who has made a run in behind but too much on the pass.
18:12 , Matt Verri
24 mins: Game settling down a bit more now, which is good news for Newcastle. That constant Milan pressure has eased.
Visitors haven’t really been able to get Isak in the game, with Guimaraes very quiet too. Needs to change for them.
18:08 , Matt Verri
21 mins: Loftus-Cheek allowed so much space in midfield, drives towards the Newcastle box and fires an effort at goal. Rises over the bar.
Think that’s eight shots for Milan now, Newcastle yet to get off the mark.
18:07 , Matt Verri
19 mins: Pope is keeping Milan at bay by himself. Hernandez not marked from the corner, free header and Pope reacts in time to turn it over for another corner.
Newcastle looking all over the place at the back.
18:05 , Matt Verri
18 mins: Newcastle just keeping the ball for a couple of minutes, trying to calm things down after that frantic spell. It’s still goalless, that’s the main thing for them.
Here come the visitors again, ball clipped to the back post and Trippier does well to nod it away with Leao lurking.
Falls for Krunic, miles out but goes for goal anyway. Pope tips it over the bar.
18:02 , Matt Verri
15 mins: And another save!
Ball falls for Giroud in the box, Pope stands tall to deny him. Corner for the hosts, who are suddenly piling the pressure on.
Flicked on, Leao keeps it in at the back post but can’t direct the ball at goal. Newcastle hanging on for dear life.
18:00 , Matt Verri
13 mins: Two saves from Pope in a matter of seconds!
Sloppy from Newcastle and they are very nearly punished. Pobega from distance, Pope parries it away. Milan stay on the attack, cross clipped to the back post and Chukwueze’s header is kept out.
17:59 , Matt Verri
12 mins: Gordon, like Tonali a few minutes ago, bursts down the left and to the byline.
He does keep the ball in play, cut back isn’t great though and Milan can clear. Plenty of Newcastle bodies up with him, the visitors look really confident so far.
17:57 , Matt Verri
9 mins: Milan get a chance to break, Loftus-Cheek brings it forward and slides the pass wide to Chukwueze.
He’s standing on the touchline... standing offside on the touchline. His team-mates are less than impressed.
17:53 , Matt Verri
6 mins: More like it from Newcastle, getting on the front foot for the first time.
Tonali drives down the left wing, powerful run and gets to the byline before cutting the ball back into the box. Can’t pick out a black and white shirt, but the flag is up anyway. Ball had just gone out of play.
17:51 , Matt Verri
4 mins: Long spell of Milan possession, Leao tries to make something happen and lets fly from 25 yards out. Bounces just in front of Pope, but he claims it comfortably.
Gordon gets his first touch of the ball, brought down by Calabria. Won’t be the last time those two come together.
17:50 , Matt Verri
2 mins: Milan seeing plenty of the ball in the opening minutes, Newcastle happy to let the defenders have it.
The Magpies won’t want to take any risks early on here, just need to ease their way into the match.
17:47 , Matt Verri
Underway at the San Siro!
17:45 , Matt Verri
Massive smile on Jacob Murphy’s face as the Champions League anthem plays, looking around and trying to take in the occasion. Can see how much it means to him. Dan Burn looking fairly chuffed with life.
All far more serious on the Milan side of things. They’ve been here before, reaching the semi-finals last season.
Here we go!
17:43 , Matt Verri
Teams are out onto the pitch at the San Siro, brilliant atmosphere as you’d expect.
Tonali right at the back of the Newcastle line, going to be an emotional evening for him back at the club he supports.
All that put to one side for 90 minutes...
Waiting is almost over!
17:39 , Matt Verri
Players will be in the tunnel any minute now, kick-off coming up very, very shortly.
It’s been 20 years since Newcastle last played a Champions League match, a fair bit has changed since then.
The Magpies haven’t been at their best so far this season, but a chance to make a real statement this evening.
Wilson: We’re not in Champions League to be tourists
17:35 , Matt Verri
Callum Wilson has urged Newcastle to prove they “deserve” to be in the Champions League and rise to the occasion in what is an incredibly difficult group.
“We have an opportunity to go into the Champions League, play against the best teams that have been here for many years, go toe-to-toe with them,” he said on the The Footballer’s Football Podcast.
“We are not going to these stadiums to spectate and be a tourist. We are going to put in a performance and go toe-to-toe. That’s what we worked so hard last season for, to not get to this point now and then start falling away and getting nervous when it gets to this situation.
“Everyone says you want Champions League, OK we have got it, so let’s show why you deserve to be there.”
Pre-match thoughts from Eddie Howe
17:29 , Matt Verri
"It's loud in the stadium and it isn't even half full"
Eddie Howe shares his thoughts on the #UCL challenge and how his side will balance the enjoyment with their best performance. #ACMNEW pic.twitter.com/VOpVkQQIi1
— Football on TNT Sports (@footballontnt) September 19, 2023
Newcastle fan attacked in Milan
17:23 , Matt Verri
A Newcastle supporter was ambushed and stabbed three times in Milan last night.
Eddie McKay, 58, was with his son when he was attacked by seven or eight thugs wearing balaclavas around midnight on Monday.
Mr McKay suffered injuries to his back and arms. His daughter Rachel confirmed her father, from Newcastle, was recovering in hospital but wanted to warn other fans out in Milan.
She told Sky News: “My dad is stable and in a bit of shock.
“He’s gutted he’s missing the match, but just wants every other Newcastle fan out here to be aware and be safe.
“He has just had two knee replacements, so he fell when he was being chased and that is when he was attacked. My brother is okay, but is in shock after seeing that happen to our dad. I’m flying out there later. We haven’t slept all night.”
Howe: Tonali is a leader
17:16 , Matt Verri
Sandro Tonali was an ever-present in AC Milan’s Champions League run last season, but he’s in a Newcastle shirt this evening.
The midfielder has been a superb start to life with the Magpies, already making a big impression on Eddie Howe.
“He’s really committed to Newcastle,” Howe said in his pre-match press conference.
“Living there, the language and everything we wanted him to do. It’s very difficult to transfer from another country. I really like him as a person. Serious towards his game, which I like. He’s a leader.
“Excited for what he can be for us - both now and the future.”
Milan looking for more of the same
17:09 , Matt Verri
AC Milan made it all the way to the semi-finals of last season’s Champions League.
They came up against Inter in the last-four and failed to make an impression over the two legs, falling to defeat as their rivals made it through to the final and were beaten by Manchester City.
Rafael Leao shone throughout that deep run, and he’ll be crucial again if they are to make an impression this season.
Daunting task for Newcastle
16:59 , Matt Verri
Three away days the Newcastle fans will love, but it’s a very difficult task facing the Magpies in Europe this season.
They’re in Group F alongside PSG, Borussia Dortmund and Milan - about as difficult as it could have been!
You’d imagine Newcastle’s form at St James’ Park will be decisive, but they won’t want to rely just on home comforts.
In the building!
16:52 , Matt Verri
Checking in at the San Siro. 👊 pic.twitter.com/xLW6inmvBl
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) September 19, 2023
AC Milan team news
16:45 , Matt Verri
Starting XI: Maignan, Calabria, Tomori, Thiaw, Hernandez, Krunic, Loftus-Cheek, Pobega, Chukwueze, Leao, Giroud
Subs: Sportiello, Mirante, Adli, Pulisic, Reijnders, Jovic, Okafor, Kjaer, Florenzi, Musah, Bartesaghi
Tonali starts against former club!
16:37 , Matt Verri
Sandro Tonali gets a swift return to Milan and he starts in midfield against the side he left in the summer.
Alexander Isak leads the line for Newcastle, with Callum Wilson on the bench. Jacob Murphy gets the nod in the front three, with Harvey Barnes and Miguel Almiron both among the substitutes.
Newcastle team news
16:32 , Matt Verri
Starting XI: Pope, Trippier, Schar, Botman, Burn, Longstaff, Tonali, Guimaraes, Murphy, Isak, Gordon
Subs: Karius, Harris, Dummett, Lascelles, Wilson, Targett, Barnes, Hall, Livramento, Almiron, Anderson, Miley
“We need to cause them problems"
16:25 , Matt Verri
— AC Milan (@acmilan) September 18, 2023
Howe: Proud moment to be in Champions League
16:17 , Matt Verri
Eddie Howe revealed in his pre-match press conference that this will be the first Champions League match he has ever attended.
The Magpies are back in the competition after 20 years away, and the wait has been even longer for their boss.
“I’ve always been too busy working to take one in,” Howe said. “But it’s not something I’ve given any thought to.
“Yes, it will be a very proud moment for me. I think it will be a very proud moment for everyone connected with Newcastle to be back in the Champions League after a long period away.”
Milan need response
16:09 , Matt Verri
Fair to say AC Milan are not exactly coming into this match on a high.
They were hammered 5-1 by Inter Milan over the weekend, bringing an abrupt halt to what had been an unbeaten start to the Serie A season.
Room for improvement...
Man City to defend crown?
16:00 , Matt Verri
No surprise to see Man City as favourites for Champions League glory, after they lifted the trophy for the first time last season.
Newcastle back at Europe’s top table and are alongside Napoli and Inter Milan in the market - not much love for AC Milan.
Man City: 2/1
Bayern Munich: 11/2
Real Madrid: 8/1
Paris St-G: 12/1
Man Utd: 20/1
Napoli, Newcastle, Inter, Atletico Madrid: 25/1
AC Milan: 40/1
Odds via Betfair.
Perfect evening for it in Milan!
15:51 , Matt Verri
Standard Sport prediction
15:44 , Matt Verri
This is a really tough one. AC Milan can count themselves lucky to even be in the competition after benefiting from Juventus’ points deduction last season but have the pedigree and nous on this stage.
You can never write Newcastle off these days and no doubt every player will be determined to make their return after two decades a positive one.
Newcastle’s backline could well be the deciding factor here, either positively in the form of the influential Kieran Trippier or negatively in the form of the players beside him.
AC Milan to win, 2-1.
Newcastle team news
15:37 , Matt Verri
Alexander Isak is expected to start for Newcastle at the San Siro.
The Swede dropped out of the starting lineup for Saturday’s win over Brentford but looks likely to play alongside Miguel Almiron and Anthony Gordon in attack.
Callum Wilson, who scored the winner against the Bees, has trained individually in the build-up for the game but is not thought to be carrying an injury.
Sandro Tonali is another expected in from the off as the Italian international returns to his former club and the team he supported as a boy.
Joelinton has joined Joe Willock, Emil Krafth and Javier Manquillo on the treatment table, so will miss the game.
Newcastle predicted XI: Pope; Trippier, Schar, Botman, Burn; Guimaraes, Tonali, Longstaff; Almiron, Isak, Barnes
AC Milan team news
15:29 , Matt Verri
Fikayo Tomori is eligible to play for AC Milan this evening, following his Serie A suspension.
The Italian giants have plenty of former Premier League players in their squad, with Olivier Giroud likely to lead the line, supported by both Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Christian Pulisic.
How to watch AC Milan vs Newcastle
15:24 , Matt Verri
TV channel: In the UK, the game will be televised live on TNT Sports 1, with coverage beginning at 5pm.
Live stream: Subscribers can also catch the contest live online via the TNT Sports app and website.
Live blog: You can follow all the action right here with us!
15:15 , Matt Verri
Hello and welcome to Standard Sport’s LIVE coverage of AC Milan vs Newcastle!
The Magpies are back in the Champions League and it’s a blockbuster clash to kick things off, as they travel to the San Siro to take on Milan.
We’ll have all the latest updates, build-up and team news ahead of kick-off, which comes at 5:45pm BST. Stay with us!