Newcastle drew with AC Milan (Owen Humphreys/PA)
Rafael Leao was guilty of an incredible miss which let Newcastle off the hook as their Champions League opener at AC Milan finished goalless.
The Portugal international, who was Newcastle star Sandro Tonali’s team-mate at San Siro until his £53million summer switch to Tyneside, completely fluffed his lines with only goalkeeper Nick Pope to beat after attempting an audacious flick at the end of a stunning 34th-minute run and only succeeded in tripping himself.
Pope will feel he had already earned his slice of good fortune after making five first-half saves in the space of six minutes to pave the way for a 0-0 draw which banked a priceless first point for the Magpies’ Group F account on their return to European football’s top table after an absence of 20 years.
For the seven-time winners, who were thrashed 5-1 by derby rivals Inter Milan on Saturday, there was no salvation on a night when they created enough chances, but were unable to take any of them, much to the annoyance of the locals among a crowd of 65,695.
Pope had to come to Newcastle’s rescue five times in quick succession after Dan Burn, one of two Geordies in Eddie Howe’s starting line-up, allowed the ball to run across him, forcing Sven Botman to make a hurried clearance.
Midfielder Tommaso Pobega pounced on the loose ball to test the keeper from distance and Pope had to react swiftly to repel Samuel Chukwueze’s header as the ball was recycled before denying Olivier Giroud from point-blank range with his defenders unable to keep the red and black shirts at bay.
The England international then tipped away Rade Krunic’s raking drive and turned Giroud’s 19th-minute header over the bar after he had been leftRead on belfasttelegraph.co.uk