Wolfsburg 1-3 Newcastle United
Newcastle United got back to winning ways as the final leg of their pre-season tour away from home came to a successful conclusion.
With only the one remaining game left before a ball in kicked in anger this season, and that being back at St James Park, there were perhaps some signs of who Rafa may come to rely on in that first game versus Spurs in just 10 days time.
Gone were the raft of changes at half time with most of the changes being saved for only 20 minutes left, whilst Clark and Shelvey played the full 90.
STARTING XI: Elliot (Darlow, 70), Manquillo (Gamez, 70), Lejeune (Lascelles, 70), Clark, Dummett (Mbemba, 70), Ritchie (Murphy, 70), Shelvey, Hayden (Merino, 70), Atsu (Aarons, 70), Perez (de Jong, 70), Mitrovic (Diame, 45)
In truth this was a much easier game on paper to that just a few days against Mainz with VfL Wolfsburg finishing 16 in the Bundesliga and only just escaping relegation.
From a Newcastle perspective it will have acted as both a confidence booster as well as providing yet more vital minutes for all the players involved.
Newcastle started brightly and should have tested the keeper as soon as 3 minutes into the game when Mitrovic decided to take a touch rather than opting for a first time finish following a fine cross by Ritchie. Mitro would then see a half chance deflected wide when played in by Hayden before 10 minutes.
Wolfsburg finally started to grow into the game and after going close with a free kick they would force a succession of corners as they started to present a test for the NUFC back line.
Back would come Newcastle though with first Perez forcing Grun in the Wolfsburg goal into a good save before Mitrovic would test the keeper again moments later.
Then the breakthrough. With Newcastle players still reeling from a penalty claim turned away, Christian Atsu would jink his way down the Newcastle right giving Mitrovic the easiest of jobs to poke home under the sprawling keeper.
That goal, timed at 39 minutes would be as much down to the persistence and quality of the little Newcastle man as the big Serb’s finish, however there would be no doubt about who would take the plaudits for the Newcastle second.
With just 2 minutes until the break Matt Ritchie would place the ball 20 yards from he Wolfsburg goal and just right of the ‘D’. The subsequent finish was a sublime as it was nonchalant. Just majestic.
2-0 at half time then and well deserved.
Just the one change at half time would see Diame in for goal scorer Mitrovic.
It wouldn’t take long for the Magpies to shoot themselves in the foot however with Dummett conceding a needless penalty. The spot kick neatly converted by Mali for the home side.
No capitulation for the visitors though thankfully as the expected onslaught from Wolfsburg was pretty comfortably dealt with and short lived.
Newcastle would restore their two goal cushion after 68 minutes when a long ball over the top was latched onto by Shelvey who marker inexplicably went to ground when anticipating a cross that never looked like coming, allowing the bald headed talisman to cross to Atsu to bundle the ball into an empty net.
With the game finishing 3-1 then a good workout once more for Rafa’s men, with the boss commenting after the game that the workout had pleased him whilst identifying some negatives as well as the obvious positives.