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Newcastle earn Milan draw but ‘group of death’ will reveal its true value

Twenty years ago, Newcastle United went to the San Siro and came away with a draw. Two decades later and, in their first Champions League away match since, Eddie Howe’s side just about managed to hang on in order to repeat the feat. A goalless draw against AC Milan lacked the scoreline of that previous 2-2 against Inter in 2003, but given the dominance of the Italian side and the sheer amount of their chances the hosts wasted, this will go down as a valuable point on Newcastle’s long-awaited return to Europe’s top table.

Whether it is enough in a group that also contains Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund feels like a separate issue, and whether, in time, the Premier League side may regret not doing more to try and take three, but even asking that question is a sign of how much has changed in 20 years. This is not a great Milan team and Newcastle’s wealth is now far greater than the seven-time European champions. Although Champions League semi-finalists last season, Milan finished fifth in Serie A in the same year and on Saturday were thrashed 5-1 by Inter in the derby.

Yet this will still be a memorable trip for those who travelled from the north east, which almost became a famous one at the death. It took Newcastle until the 94th minute to have their first shot on target but it came close to stunning the San Siro, as Sean Longstaff’s drive was tipped over by substitute keeper Marco Sportiello. It would have been the ultimate smash-and-grab, with Milan finishing with 25 shots on goal and Nick Pope having to make a series of saves to earn Newcastle their point.

That was because a historic occasion for Newcastle threatened to be a horrid one at times. Jacob Murphy had a grin as wide as the San Siro as the Champions