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Newcastle discover elite level of Champions League as former transfer target shows his worth

Felix Nmecha showed Newcastle what they could have bought - as the Geordies were handed a Champions League reality check.

‌The midfielder was a Newcastle transfer target in the summer and netted the only goal of the game. The German side showed their elite level experience and power blowing Group F wide open and ending United’s nine game winning streak.

Eddie Howe’s men turned in a better second half display and pushed for the equaliser. Callum Wilson missed a golden chance and also flicked a header onto the bar late on. Anthony Gordon also hit the underside of the bar in injury time.

They now face a nerve-jangling last three games including trips to Dortmund and Paris next. Injuries are also starting to hit with Alexander Isak substituted early and Jacob Murphy, with a suspected dislocated shoulder, added to the wounded list. Elliott Anderson is also out for "weeks" with a back problem. And that’s on top of a ban for Sandro Tonali.

"I don't think we deserved to lose today," Howe said. "It is going to be difficult but we're in the Champions League. Nothing comes easy. You know you're going to have to win in some tough places.

"Tactically they were good and gave us problems in central areas. In the second half we were a lot better and unfortunately the ball would not go in. The intention was there but we're up against elite teams. You make half a mistake and get punished."

Tempers flared before the match with punches and bottles thrown in a flare up as Dortmund fans parades through the city.‌ And Newcastle were left licking their wounds just before half time when Nmecha scored as Dortmund turned up the counter attacking power.

It was the first goal the Toon had conceded in the competition, and was a neat finish. Nico Schlotterbeck was free on the left wing and pulled back a clever ball. Nmecha, signed to replace Jude Bellingham, arrived late in the box and opened his body to finish into the top right corner of Nick Pope’s net.

Nmecha was a transfer target for Newcastle this summer, but joined Dortmund instead (


Richard Sellers/Sportsphoto/Allstar via Getty Images)

‌It won’t have been lost on the Newcastle recruitment team that the 22-year-old was on their radar in the summer. It was Dortmund’s first goal of their Euro campaign this season. Newcastle were ready to compete with Dortmund for a £27m deal but ended up buying Sandro Tonali.

‌The Italian started on the bench last night, awaiting a ban for illegal betting, which is likely to rule him for ten months and spark a legal battle with AC Milan. Dortmund had won their last five league games and have recovered from a slow start in Europe.‌

Within a minute the danger was evident. Donyel Malenn showed the danger by racing clear on goal only for Pope to save with his feet. Then after ten minutes a stunning double save from Pope, who was dropped from the England squad by Gareth Southgate.

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First Malen smashed in a first time shot, blocked by Pope, then he bounced back up to save with his arm from Niclas Fullkrug. It was a furious start from the Germans but Newcastle responded by sending Isak on the break who sent Anthony Gordon on goal by the excellent Gregor Kobel saved at point blank range.

‌Isak limped off after just 13 minutes into the game, leaving an injury headache up front ahead of the packed fixture list. In contrast to the lethargic PSG, who were beaten 4-1 here, Dortmund were sharp and set tactical problems with their adventure and commitment to attack. Howe admitted his side are on a learning curve.

They were better, and dominated possession after the break. Wilson’s header clipped the bar and the England striker should have converted Gordon’s cross. In injury time Gordon bounced a shot off the tuft onto the underside of the bar. But Dortmund were good value for the win.

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