Newcastle United, making their Champions League debut after a two-decade absence, held AC Milan to a 0-0 draw at San Siro on Tuesday as the hosts missed countless chances in the Group F opening.
Rafael Leao, a Portuguese winger for Milan who has scored in his past two games, was a constant threat down the left and kept Newcastle’s defense on its toes, but his goal-scoring ability failed him.
Stefano Pioli, manager of Milan, stated, “We’re disappointed because when you play like this, you have to win.”
“Overall, the performance was nice, but we wanted the victory. Our goal is to advance from this group, so we wanted to start strongly. We avoided taking simple risks.
Tommaso Pobega and Leao attempted long-range shots for the 2018 Champions League semifinalists, who then forced a stop from Newcastle goalkeeper Nick Pope. Samuel Chukwueze also had a header saved.
Leao, 24, had the best chance of the first half in the 34th minute, but his creative backheel was mishandled after he skipped past two players in the penalty area.
After the break, Newcastle’s defense improved, but Milan kept up their pressure to pursue the opening goal.
Leao was provided with an inch-perfect cross by halftime substitute Alessandro Florenzi in the 74th minute, but the Portuguese forward once more missed the goal, heading the ball over the crossbar.
Having to replace goalkeeper Mike Maignan and midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek delivered a double injury blow to Milan, who finished the game with 25 shots.
The visitors’ actions at the other end of the field were restricted to counterattacks.
In the 95th minute, Sean Longstaff’s effort from the outskirts of the area forced Eddie Howe’s team’s replacement goalkeeper, Marco Sportiello, to make a save.
It was emotional. Sandro Tonali, a midfielder for Newcastle who left Milan in the off-season, stated, “We take this draw and point, a point we struggled to achieve and are thrilled with.
However, the draw could be detrimental to both teams in the difficult group, including Borussia Dortmund, the 1997 European Cup champions, and French champions Paris St. Germain, who play later on Tuesday.
Milan will play in Dortmund, Germany, the following day, while Newcastle will welcome PSG at St. James’ Park.