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Howe ‘proud’ of Newcastle’s Milan stalemate on Champions League return

MILAN: Eddie Howe was proud of Newcastle United’s dogged return to Champions League football after two decades away, holding seven-time European kings AC Milan to a goalless draw in Tuesday’s opening Group F match.

Howe was the happier of the two managers with taking a point from the clash at the San Siro as his team were mostly on the back foot against last season’s losing semifinalists.

Newcastle did little in their first fixture in Europe’s top club competition since 2003, the Saudi Arabia-backed club barely creating a chance and lucky to escape with a draw on the balance of play.

Milan should have won after wasting a string of chances, particularly in the first half, and dominating the play on Sandro Tonali’s return to his old stomping ground after being sold to Newcastle in July.

“Definitely pride in result and the performance and the mentality shown,” Howe told reporters.

“Within the squad the result wasn’t underestimated. Also they are very honest players that acknowledge the fact that we can perform better.

“I think we’ll get better and better as time goes on. Hopefully can grow into the tournament.”

Stefano Pioli’s Milan sat top of a tough group before Paris Saint-Germain’s opener with Borussia Dortmund at the Parc des Princes later on Tuesday, level with their Premier League opposition.

Tonali’s father was at the San Siro and saw much more football played by the hosts than by his son, back in the Newcastle starting line-up after missing international duty and the weekend’s 1-0 win over Brentford with injury.

Before kick-off and during the match the Italy midfielder was loudly cheered by supporters who don’t resent his mega-money move to England.

But home fans, who watched their team thumped 5-1 by