Eddie Howe: Dortmund defeat teaches Newcastle the ‘fine margins’ of the Champions League

Newcastle’s manager, Eddie Howe, conceded that Borussia Dortmund provided a valuable lesson to his team as they experienced their first defeat in the Champions League. Following a goalless draw against AC Milan and a 4-1 victory over Paris St Germain in their previous matches, Newcastle was brought back to reality with a 1-0 loss to Dortmund, courtesy of Felix Nmecha’s well-controlled finish.

In a rainy night at St James’ Park, Callum Wilson saw his attempt thwarted by a remarkable save from Gregor Kobel and then struck the crossbar, while Anthony Gordon’s shot took a deflection and also hit the goal frame late in the game.

Despite a nine-game unbeaten streak in all competitions, Newcastle lacked some momentum, leaving them in third place in Group F with four points, level with Dortmund and two points behind PSG, who lead the group.

The Newcastle manager commented, “It was always expected to be a close contest. There are high-quality teams in the group. Tonight’s loss is a setback, especially at home. It served as a lesson in how slim the margins can be.”

He continued, “The ball just wouldn’t find the net for us. Callum had a great opportunity in the second half, and we hit the crossbar twice but couldn’t find the breakthrough. Credit to the players, they didn’t give up, and we continued to create goal-scoring opportunities. However, winning at this level requires us to be at our absolute best. Any drop in performance makes it difficult to secure results.”

He acknowledged the need for improvement, saying, “Any mistake can be costly, as we experienced when we made one and conceded shortly after. There are areas where we could have done better, and we’ll analyze and learn from this in due course.”

Newcastle’s upcoming return match against Dortmund in two weeks could be pivotal in determining their progress to the last 16, marking their first appearance in Europe’s premier club competition in two decades. The loss on Wednesday was compounded by injuries to Alexander Isak and Jacob Murphy.

Howe acknowledged the challenges posed by injuries, stating, “Some of the injuries are hard to comprehend, but we must adapt. We can’t dwell on it too much; we need to regroup. We’re still in a favorable position in both the Premier League and the Champions League.”

He emphasized the significance of the upcoming Dortmund fixture, saying, “The return match against Dortmund is of great importance. The next two away games are crucial, and the league table is quite competitive. Our players are determined to win and succeed, but there are some exhausted bodies, and we must recover for the Premier League match against Wolves on Saturday.”

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