Newcastle United’s Champions League campaign ended in heartbreak on a night of emotion and drama on Tyneside, as AC Milan came from behind to win at St James’ Park and send them out of Europe.
The Toon Army were dreaming of a place in the knockout stages when they took the lead through Joelinton’s 33rd-minute thunderbolt while Borussia Dortmund led against Paris St-Germain in Germany.
It was an outcome that would have sent Newcastle through on head-to-head results against PSG – but the mood shifted in a matter of minutes just before the hour.
Teenager Warren Zaire-Emery equalised for the French champions in Germany, then former Chelsea forward Christian Pulisic levelled for Milan.
As both sides pushed for a winner in an open game, Milan keeper Mike Maignan did brilliantly to turn Bruno Guimaraes’ shot on to the woodwork before Rafael Leao raced clear for the Italians, only to shoot against the foot of the post.
Newcastle’s fate was sealed six minutes from time when Milan struck ruthlessly on the counter-attack, substitute Samuel Chukwueze curling a superb finish high past Martin Dubravka.
It left manager Eddie Howe and his players devastated following a return to the Champions League which was fiercely fought, but has ended with them bottom of Group F and without even the consolation of a place in the Europa League.