LONDON: Newcastle’s dream of reaching the Champions League knockout stage for the first time is over. Their 2:1 home defeat against Milan pushed them bottom of the group and out of European competition altogether.

The Magpies had to win and hope for good news from Dortmund but it all proved in vain even though they led at halftime.

Injury-hit Newcastle had put Loris Karius on standby for his first Champions League game since Liverpool’s personally disastrous defeat by Real Madrid in Kyiv in the 2018 final. However Martin Dubravka, who had been deputising for the injured Nick Pope, recovered from a weekend back injury so Karius started on the bench.

Manager Eddie Howe, leading the Magpies’ first Champions League campaign for 20 years, regretted that his team had not been able to find their best form because of an ongoing injury crisis. He said: “I’ve enjoyed the Champions League but now we have to make this game as memorable as possible.”

They did – but not in the manner they had wanted.

The Magpies could have taken the lead after 20 minutes when Milan’s England defender Fikayo Tomori cleared off the line from Joelinton. Almost immediately Milan raised a rare threat on the counter-attack and Rafael Leao missed badly.

Newcastle capitalised on their escape after 32 minutes. Milan were struggling to deal with Newcastle’s press and fell behind to a superb strike from Joelinton.

Midfielder Lewis Miley thus became the youngest player in Champions League history to provide an assist for an English club at 17 years, 226 days. The previous record-holder was Arsenal’s Theo Walcott at 17 years 250 days for Arsenal in November 2006.

Newcastle began the second half brightly then began to fade. Milan, disappointing in the first half, stepped up their efforts and equalised after an hour. Olivier Giroud set up his fellow Chelsea old boy Christian Pulisic to score from close range.

Alexander Isak came off the subs’ bench to refresh the Newcastle attack and Bruno Guimaraes had a shot pushed onto the bar by Milan keeper Mike Maignan.

Milan shot themselves into the Europa League, instead of Newcastle, five minutes from time. Leao shot against a post in the 80th minute then Nigerian substitute Samuel Chukwueze made no mistake only minutes after joining the game.

This was only Milan’s second away win against English clubs in 22 matches.

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