Final score Newcastle 1 CSKA Moscow 1 – 22 players used and decent workout
It ended Newcastle 1 CSKA Moscow 1 as Rafa Benitez gave his squad a workout thanks to no FA Cup fifth round action.
The quad having flown to Spain after drawing at Wolves, for some warmer weather training, culminating in this friendly which was played today in front of a couple of thousand (at the most) at the Pinatar Arena.
The game kicked off 12 noon local time, which was 11am UK time.
A bit of overkill from the media on this friendly as so many journalists had gone over to cover these past few days, getting more than usual access to Rafa and his players.
A bit like most friendlies of this nature, not that much stood out. Or at least nothing we didn’t know already.
CSKA Moscow haven’t played a competitive match in around 10 weeks as they are in their Russian League winter break, now in the middle of a succession of friendlies as they get ready for the restart in early March, currently third in the league after the first half of the season.
Fitness though probably not really an issue in this friendly with countless subs made.
Newcastle United playing two totally different elevens in each half.
Salomon Rondon took his 16th minute goal comfortably, a left foot volley when the ball was crossed from the right and bounced through the CSKA Moscow defence.
Joselu not taking an equally presentable chance in the second half, which kind of sums the two strikers up.
Kenedy was poor and not looking that up for it, whilst in the second half Ritchie was up for it as usual. Putting in some decent crosses from the left and in the very final minute, he intercepted a pass and fed Atsu running into the box, who then cocked it up before the ball accidentally fell to Muto who saw his close range effort well saved.
The match was mainly friendly style/pace but with the odd spiky challenge from the two sides.
Newcastle were maybe marginally the better side and Karl Darlow was unlucky when making an excellent point blank save in the 41st minute, to then see former Hull forward Hernandez on hand to score from the rebound.
All eyes/overkill on Miguel Almiron but in truth he rarely featured in his 45 minutes.
Rafa Benitez well aware of the wild over expectation surrounding Almiron due to his price tag. The fact is though that he hasn’t started a competitive game in two and a half months and my money is definitely on another appearance off the bench on Saturday against Huddersfield.
Newcastle 1 CSKA Moscow 1
These are the two teams Rafa Benitez used in each half:
Darlow, Yedlin, Schar, Lascelles, Lejeune, Barreca, Kenedy, Ki, Diame, Almiron, Rondon
Woodman, Manquillo, Dummett, Fernandez, Hayden, Longstaff, Atsu, Ritchie, Perez, Muto, Joselu
Rafa giving the two squad keepers time on the pitch, with Dubravka watching on.
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