Newcastle United 5-1 Aston Villa: Magpies put on five-star display to see off Villa

Unbeaten against Aston Villa at St. James Park since December 2005, Newcastle manager Eddie Howe named a familiar-looking starting eleven for the home faithful – though there was space for Italian international Sandro Tonali to make his debut in the Magpies’ midfield alongside Bruno Guimarães and Joelinton.

Meanwhile, Unai Emery handed Moussa Diaby his competitive Aston Villa debut, while fellow new summer arrivals at Bodymoor Heath, Pau Torres and Youri Tielemans, were named on the substitutes bench.

NEW: Pope, Trippier, Schär, Botman, Burn; Tonali, Guimarães, Joelinton; Almirón, Gordon, Isak

AVL: Martínez, Cash, Mings, Konsa, Digne; Luiz, Kamara, McGinn, Bailey; Diaby, Watkins 

In the wake of an enthralling 3-3 draw in the Premier League’s pre-season Summer Series, Newcastle continued where they left off in front of goal in America, as Sandro Tonali inconspicuously arrived into the penalty area, between Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa, to fire home Anthony Gordon’s dangerous-looking delivery past Emiliano Martínez early on.

It should have been a double-digit debutant goal return only two minutes later for Tonali – however, the goal-hungry Italian would be denied a second quick-fire celebration as Villa’s World Cup-winning goalkeeper raced from his goalline to divert the ball around the post for a corner. That save turned out to be a pivotal one for the visitors, as moments later, Lucas Digne’s cross from the left, via Ollie Watkins’ headed flick-on, would be precisely passed into the back of the net on the half-volley by Moussa Diaby. 

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Unbelievably, there was still more to come in a bums-off-seats opening sixteen minutes, as Alexander Isak patiently waited to find out if his instinctive six-yard finish had restored Newcastle’s lead, after it appeared that Sven Botman might have strayed marginally offside in the build-up. However, after an agonising delay, Newcastle’s club-record signing, and the majority in attendance at St. James Park, were allowed to celebrate after receiving the green-light goal confirmation treatment from referee Andrew Madley. 

However, the electric atmosphere inside the stadium was silenced as half-time approached when Mings was concerningly forced to leave the pitch on a stretcher after appearing to jar his knee during his one-on-one tussle with Isak – and the defender has since been taken to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary for further treatment.

With the second half starting in a much more subdued fashion than the first, the contest burst back into life in the 58th minute as calamitously for Konsa, the Villa centre-back inexplicably gave away possession in the penalty area, which allowed the instinctive Isak to bury the ball home past Martínez – to all but secure Newcastle’s second successive opening-day PL success.

With time running down, Callum Wilson survived another intervention from the footballing gods to add the icing to the top of Newcastle’s cake by firing substitute Harvey Barnes’ defence-splitting through ball into the far corner in the 77th minute. Newcastle’s victory could have been by a heavier margin if Watkins had not of cleared Joelinton’s header off the line.

Nonetheless, the hosts did add their fifth in added time as Barnes perfectly timed his run against the offside trap, before slotting his shot into the far corner beyond a beleaguered-looking Martínez.

The Magpies will now have a week off to prepare for the daunting task of facing reigning Premier League champions Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium. Meanwhile, Aston Villa will surely depart the North East with a disappointed mindset, after falling to their first hat-trick of defeats on the opening day of a top-flight campaign since 1967-1970.

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