A look at the last time Newcastle played in the Champions League two decades ago

By Sports Desk September 18, 2023

Newcastle return to the Champions League group stage for the first time in two decades on Tuesday night.

The Magpies travel to San Siro, where they take on AC Milan before facing PSG and Borussia Dortmund in their remaining Group F fixtures.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at the last time Newcastle were in Europe’s premier club competition back in 2002-03.

First Group Stage

After qualifying for the competition with a fourth-placed finish in the previous Premier League season, Newcastle reached the first group stage of the tournament where they were drawn against Dynamo Kiev, Feyenoord and Juventus in Group E.
Their opening fixture against Dynamo Kiev ended in defeat at the Olympic Stadium in Ukraine’s capital as Maksim Shatskikh and Alyaksandr Khatskevich gave the hosts the advantage, while captain Alan Shearer came away with four stitches in his head following a challenge from Andriy Husin.

Sebastian Pardo’s fourth-minute volley condemned the Magpies to further Champions League misery the following week in a home fixture against Feyenoord in an end-to-end clash which saw goalkeeper Edwin Zoetebier make several fantastic saves to deny the hosts.

Their third game against Juventus kept them rooted to the bottom of the group without a point after suffering a 2-0 defeat with two goals from Alessandro Del Piero, and with three successive defeats under their belts Newcastle needed something drastic to salvage their European hopes.

Sir Bobby Robson’s side did just that, starting with Juve again at St James’ Park as full-back Andy Griffin got the ball rolling when his shot was turned into the net by goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon for the Tynesiders to edge to a 1-0 win.

Next up was a home fixture against Dynamo Kiev and they bounced back from Shatskikh’s opener when Gary Speed’s header brought the scores level before Shearer slotted the ball home from the penalty spot to secure a 2-1 win.

Needing nothing but a win against Feyenoord to stand a chance of progressing to the next stage, the scores were tied going into the final minutes and Craig Bellamy struck in injury time for Newcastle to secure a dramatic second-placed finish in Group E to reach the next phase of the competition.

Second Group Stage

The Magpies were drawn into Group A for the next stage of the competition and got off to a shaky start as three first-half goals set Inter Milan up to win 4-1 in the opening group fixture.

Robson’s return to the Nou Camp ended in defeat the following game as goals from Dani, Patrick Kluivert and Thiago Motta were enough for Barcelona to beat the Magpies 3-1 as the hosts earned a record 10th successive Champions League victory.

The Newcastle boss then celebrated his 70th birthday in style as his side kept their chances alive with a 3-1 victory over Bayer Leverkusen as Shola Ameobi’s double put them ahead before Franca pulled one back and Lomana LuaLua restored the two-goal cushion.

Shearer returned from suspension with a quick-fire hat-trick against the German side in the reverse fixture on Tyneside, heading home twice within six minutes in the opening stages before smashing the ball past Jorg Butt from the spot.

Six points against Leverkusen gave Newcastle hope for the remaining games against Inter and Barcelona and their tie at San Siro ended in a 2-2 draw as goals from Bellamy and Shearer were cancelled out by Christian Vieri and Ivan Cordoba.

Challenging for a quarter-final spot, the Magpies’ European dream was ended at St James’ Park by the LaLiga giants, who had already booked their spot in the final eight prior to the match, as Kluivert and Motta scored for the visitors, meaning Newcastle finished third in the group.

The following season the Tynesiders reached the third qualifying round of the competition, but fell to a 4-3 penalty defeat against Partizan Belgrade after the match ended 1-1 on aggregate.

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