Eddie Howe is confident Newcastle will grow in the Champions League after they marked their return to the competition following a 20-year absence with a creditable draw at AC Milan.
Howe’s side are back in Europe’s elite club competition after finishing fourth in the Premier League last season, and this was their first match in a tough Group F that also contains French champions Paris St-Germain and German giants Borussia Dortmund.
They were given a reminder of the difficulty of games in this competition as Milan dominated the first half, with Nick Pope saving well from Olivier Giroud and Theo Hernandez, but they rode their luck while defending superbly to earn what could prove to be a valuable point.
For many of the Newcastle players – and for Howe himself – this was their first taste of Champions League football and the Magpies boss believes it could prove a valuable learning experience.
“You can’t underestimate the difficulties of coming here – the emotion of the game, new experiences, we had to take a lot on board today,” Howe said.
“I thought the crowd were very good for Milan. It was a hostile atmosphere and the players had to adjust to that and that is why I don’t think you can underestimate the performance and point.
“It will look better and better as time goes on. There were new experiences for a lot of us tonight and hopefully we can grow from this.”
Rafael Leao spurned a golden chance to score in the first half for the hosts as he fluffed his backheel after a fine solo run, and Newcastle were fortunate to go into the break level.
But the game was more even in the second half. Former Milan midfielder Sandro Tonali saw a shot blocked for the visitors, while Tijjani Reijnders forced a decent save out of Pope with a low drive.
Leao really should have won it in the closing stages when he got between Newcastle defenders to meet a cross, but he headed just over.
Newcastle’s first shot on target arrived in the fourth minute of stoppage time when Sean Longstaff saw a fierce effort tipped over, but in the end a point at the San Siro is certainly an encouraging result for the Magpies.