They said it was the Group of Death and the priest is readying the last rites on Newcastle’s Champions League campaign. First, they must pray for a miracle.
Back-to-back defeats by Dortmund means Eddie Howe’s side will almost certainly need to beat Paris Saint-Germain later this month to stay alive. They have done that before, of course, but that 4-1 victory at St James’ Park seems a long time ago now.
Newcastle, we thought, were ready to take Europe by storm that night. Instead, they have been blown away by Dortmund, and the damage feels terminal.
Much of this loss was self-inflicted, but that does not mean Dortmund weren’t the better side, again. They taught Newcastle a lesson in a 1-0 win on Tyneside two weeks ago and this, at times, was another schooling. Quite simply, they just look like a better team at this level.
Their two goals actually came during periods when Newcastle were playing their best football, but those moments were all too fleeting. A shocking miss by Joelinton at 1-0 was always likely to prove costly.
Niclas Fullkrug’s strike gave the hosts the opening goal after several defensive errors in the build up
The injury-stricken visitors struggled to impose themselves early on in the encounter
Julian Brandt was impressive for the hosts and scored the second goal of the game
Still, they were in the game when Kieran Trippier lined up a free-kick with 11 minutes to play.
MATCH FACTS AND PLAYER RATINGS
Borussia Dortmund (4-2-3-1): Kobel, Süle, Hummels, Schlotterbeck, Ryerson; Sabitzer, Özcan; Adeyemi (Reus 80′), Nmecha, Brandt; Füllkrug (Moukoko 86′)
Subs: Bensebaïni, Reyna, Haller, Wolf, Malen, Meyer, Lotka, Blank, Bynoe-Gittens
Goal: Fullkrug 26′, Brandt 79′
Manager: Edin Terzic
Newcastle (4-3-3): Pope; Trippier, Lascelles, Schär, Hall (Almiron 45′); S Longstaff, Bruno Guimarães, Willock (Miley 81′); Livramento, Wilson (Gordon 45′), Joelinton
Subs: Dúbravka, Dummett, Karius, De Bolle, Parkinson
Manager: Eddie Howe
There was an air of anticipation among the 4,000 travelling fans but that was soon replaced by a whiff of booze as they puffed their disappointment when a poor delivery was cleared. It got worse. Dortmund broke and Julian Brandt finished both his chance and the contest.
Howe had asked for a fast start but got a slow one. He had wanted his team to control the atmosphere, but controlling the ball was their greatest challenge.
Twice inside the opening 15 minutes they needed Nick Pope to paddle clear from Niclas Fullkrug and then Karim Adeyemi, both slamming on goal when afforded too much space.
The visitors had only just discovered more solid ground after that shaky opening when they fell in a hole and fell behind. It was an uncharacteristic concession and would have infuriated Howe.
Dortmund’s part in the goal was hardly slick and they repeatedly gave Newcastle the chance to clear, an invitation repeatedly declined.
Finally, the ball ran to Marcel Sabitzer and his scruffy cross evaded the recovering Lewis Hall and Fullkrug turned in unmarked from six yards. The finish was the first convincing act of the entire passage.
Howe responded by making a double change at half-time. Off came Hall – he was on a booking – and striker Callum Wilson, who had endured a frustrating half.
Wingers Anthony Gordon and Miguel Almiron were introduced and immediately there was an improvement. Suddenly, they looked like Premier League Newcastle, all pace and purpose.
Brazilian midfielder Joelinton’s shocking miss at 1-0 to Dortmund always looked to prove costly
Miguel Almiron came on at the break for Lewis Hall and although there was an improvement he could not force an equaliser
Tino Livramento had an impressive Champions League debut at the back and dealt with Karim Adeyemi well throughout
Sadly, for them, their best chance fell to the old version of Joelinton, the centre-forward who couldn’t hit a barn door, nor the back of a net.
Tino Livramento delivered from the right and the Brazilian only had to turn in an unmarked header from inside the six-yard area. Somehow, he glanced wide. Howe buried his head in his hands. If only it was his brow on the end of it. Even at 45, the former defender would have converted from there.
You would like to think he would have also taken a better free-kick than the one Trippier served up leading to Dortmund’s second, failing to beat the man at the near post.
For the second matchday running Newcastle had been blinded by the lights of a big European night. It leaves them staring into the darkness.
The hosts quite simply looked a better team at this level than Newcastle on the night
The game was momentarily halted at the start of the second half as fans unfurled a banner seemingly against Newcastle’s owners