From St James’ Park – Newcastle United got their Premier League campaign off to a winning start with a 2-0 win over newly promoted Nottingham Forest.
Newcastle dominated for almost the entire game, but they had to wait until late in the day as two goals in the last half-hour sealed victory for the Magpies.
The opener came on the hour mark from an unlikely source as Swiss central defender Fabian Schar fired home from long-range.
The second came on 79 minutes with Callum Wilson – who had barely had a kick up to that point – finishing superbly from Joelinton’s pull-back to give Eddie Howe’s men the there points. Although they showed plenty of spirit, there could be few complaints from Forest boss Steve Cooper.
Newcastle dominated proceedings from the off and had four corners in the opening ten-minutes but failed to trouble Dean Henderson in the away goal.
Another set-piece chance came Newcastle’s way on 15-minutes with Kieran Trippier given a chance for one of his trademark free-kicks on the right of the Forest box, but once again it was poor as he could not beat the wall.
On the half-hour mark, good work from Miguel Almiron presented Allan Saint-Maximin with a clear chance just six yards out but he could not connect with his header – the ball came for Bruno Guimaraes on the edge of the box but his shot flew wide.
Joelinton then showed a clean set of heels to three Forest players before breaking into the box, but his shot was not equal to his run as it bobbled wide.
Just before the break and Forest finally threatened the Newcastle goal. Jesse Lingard broke and crossed for Brennan Johnson, who headed straight at Nick Pope. The visitors then saw Lewis O’Brien feed Lingard into the box, shot was blocked and Neco Williams followed up and fired wide.
After the break and it was more of the same, with Joe Willock and Saint-Maximin going close, but they were denied by good Forest defending.
But it was not long before Forest’s resistance was finally broken and it took something special. Just before the hour the visitors cleared their lines and it came to Schar, 30-yards out. Unchallenged he carried on his run before unleashing an effort into the top-corner beyond Henderson.
Newcastle were now dominating but they were almost caught on the counter as Williams broke down the right and put great ball into the box for Sam Surridge, but he could only head down and wide.
Forest brought on record signing Taiwo Awoniyi, but he barely touched the ball before Newcastle made it 2-0 and sealed the win.
Nice work down the left saw Joelinton square the ball into Wilson, who side footed beyond Henderson to seal the victory for the Toon Army.
Newcastle United (4-3-3)
GK: Nick Pope – 6/10 – Very little to do on his home debut, but looked solid when called upon.
RB: Kieran Trippier (C) – 5/10 – Never looked comfortable and his set-pieces were woeful by his very high standard.
CB: Fabian Schar – 7/10 – Battled the whole game with Sam Surridge and did well – then he stepped up and slammed home from 25-yards.
CB: Dan Burn – 7/10 – Preferred to new signing Sven Botman and did nothing wrong, coped well with Brennan Johnson.
LB: Matt Targett – 6/10 – Pinned down much of the game and never really had many chances to push forward – but defended well.
CM: Joelinton – 7/10 – Full of running and was a constant problem to Forest and created the second for Wilson.
CM: Bruno Guimaraes – 7/10 – The key to everything for Newcastle, did his best to dictate play.
CM: Joe Willock – 6/10 – Started brightly enough and had a couple of decent chances, but less effective as game went on.
LW: Allan Saint-Maximin – 6/10 – Some nice runs, but just no end product from the dynamic Frenchman.
CF: Callum Wilson – 7/10 – To be fair had very little service to feed on, barely touched the ball until his brilliant finish for the winner.
RW: Miguel Almiron – 5/10 – Some nice things from the Paraguayan but like ASM little to no end product.
SUB: Ryan Fraser (79′ for Almiron) – 4/10
SUB: Sean Longstaff (79′ for Willock) – 4/10
SUB: Chris Wood (88′ for Wilson) – 4/10
SUB: Jacob Murphy (88′ for ASM) – 4/10
SUB: Sven Botman (90′ for Bruno) – 4/10
Manager: Eddie Howe – 5/10 – Should have made changes which could have put the Tricky Trees to the sword a bit more.
Nottingham Forest (3-5-2)
GK: Dean Henderson – 6/10 – Excellent debut from the England international, a couple of really nice saves and distribution was excellent and was only beaten by two great efforts.
RWB: Neco Williams – 6/10 – Good battle against Saint-Maximin but saw little of him as an attacking threat.
CB: Joe Worrall (C) – 5/10 – Booked early on for silly challenge and that did not help him.
CB: Moussa Niakhate – 5/10 – Very nervy opening 45-minutes, but made some decent clearances.
CB: Scott McKenna – 6/10 – The pick of Forest’s back three, made some crucial tackles.
LWB: Harry Toffolo – 5/10 – Didn’t get forward much and offered little when he did.
CM: Lewis O’Brien – 6/10 – Busy and tenacious in the middle of the park, did his job.
CM: Jack Colback – 6/10 – The Geordie worked his socks off in his return to St James’.
AM: Jesse Lingard – 5/10 – Didn’t show enough, too easily kept quiet by Newcastle.
CF: Sam Surridge – 5/10 – Worked hard, but looks like he might struggle at this level.
CF: Brennan Johnson – 5/10 – Some nice touches, but clearly not a natural central striker.
SUB: Taiwo Awoniyi (64′ for Surridge) – 4/10
SUB: Orel Mangala (75′ for O’Brien) – 4/10
SUB: Alex Mighten (83′ for Niakhate) – 4/10
Manager: Steve Cooper – 6/10 – Interesting tactic of keeping two-men up at all times, just not sure they were the right players to begin with.