Sun 6 Aug 2023, 20:57 · NUFCFEED

Newcastle United 4-0 Villarreal: Sela Cup match report, highlights, player ratings, and Howe/Barnes reactions

Newcastle United 4-0 Villarreal: Sela Cup match report, highlights, player ratings, and Howe/Barnes reactions
Serena Taylor | Newcastle United
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Newcastle United completed an unbeaten pre-season and lifted the Sela Cup trophy with a resounding 4-0 victory over Villarreal at St. James' Park on Sunday afternoon.

Naming a completely changed XI from the one that beat Fiorentina 2-0 one day prior, Eddie Howe will have been delighted at his side's overall performance.

Nick Pope started between the posts and was as solid as ever, making one particularly good save with his left foot in a one-on-one situation early in the second half.

A mish-mash back four of Jacob Murphy, Jamaal Lascelles, Paul Dummett, and Dan Burn survived some hairy moments, but were largely solid, with Murphy in particular putting in an excellent shift from an unusual right-back berth.

It was the winger who scored the opening goal of the game after just six minutes, collecting a poor defensive clearance from a Matt Ritchie free-kick on the edge of the box and smartly resisting the urge to shoot first time. He instead beat a man and drove into the box before smashing an unstoppable effort into the top-right corner.

There wasn't too much other than foul play in the game from then until half-time, but Newcastle roared into life after the break with Murphy, Callum Wilson, Joelinton, and Harvey Barnes all coming to the fore.

Barnes scored his first goal for the club after a flowing counter that saw Murphy releasing Wilson in behind down the right, with the striker doing very well to turn and find Joelinton in the box, who unselfishly squared to Barnes to slot home.

14 minutes later Wilson and Joelinton were heavily involved again, with the England striker finding the Brazilian international on halfway on another break. Joelinton brilliantly beat his man with a deft touch, before bursting forward and this time ignoring Barnes to his left, deciding instead to curl one into the bottom-right corner via the post from 20 yards.

Barnes then rounded off the scoring a few minutes later, following a lovely one-two between Wilson and Ritchie down the right that saw Wilson again scampering clear of the Villarreal defence. The striker could have gone for goal himself, but instead glanced to his left and spotted Barnes' runs, before slotting a perfect cross across the face of the box for the winger to complete his brace.

All-in-all, this might just have been Newcastle's best performance of a very competitive pre-season schedule, though the opposition was lacking intensity if not technical quality.

Howe has overseen a super seven-game unbeaten run this summer, leading his side to get the better of Gateshead, Rangers, Brighton, Fiorentina, and now Villarreal, and to two draws with Aston Villa and Chelsea.

We look well set for a massive competitive campaign ahead and the club isn't finished in the transfer market just yet. Tino Livramento's move from Southampton should be sealed within the next 24 hours, with at least one more to follow.

Are there any highlights of the game?

The NUFC YouTube channel has already uploaded comprehensive highlights of the win, which you can watch here. The Joelinton goal is especially worth a look:

What were the player ratings?

There wasn't a bad performance on the pitch today in "carbon", and it was fantastic to see Barnes score his first Newcastle goal(s). The former Leicester winger was a massive threat throughout, showing real menace when dribbling and confirming his status as an ace finisher with two well-taken efforts. He could've even had another, though was denied well by veteran goalkeeper Pepe Reina when one-on-one.

Wilson led the line brilliantly and was very unselfish throughout, while Joelinton played the game as though it was a competitive affair and Sean Longstaff looked like he'd never been away. A special word for Murphy, too, who was outstanding despite playing an unfamiliar right-back role. As well as adding plenty in attack and scoring a superb goal, his recovery pace was invaluable when Lascelles and Dummett were occasionally beaten.

Newcastle United (4-3-3): Pope 7; J. Murphy 9, Lascelles 7 (Savage 6), Dummett 7, Burn 7; Longstaff 8 (Turner-Cooke 6), Guimarães 7, Joelinton 9; Ritchie 7, Wilson 8 (Diallo 6), Barnes 9 (Parkinson 6)

What was Eddie Howe's reaction?

Our head coach spoke to NUFC TV shortly after the final whistle, with his most notable comments being as follows:

"It was another difficult game for us. Villarreal are a typical La Liga team, very comfortable in possession. They kept the ball for long spells and we had to break up their game. I thought we did that really well, counter-attacked superbly and scored some great goals.

I'm delighted for Harvey. He looked quick, dynamic, and direct and took his goals superbly well. So I'm really pleased, it was a great day for him.

It's important that we start well, especially here, and get the crowd involved as early as we can. We built on that (the early goal) and I thought second half we were really good. Physically, we looked strong as well. I thought looking at the two games we got better in the latter stages of both, so there are positive signs regarding our fitness levels.

Jacob was very good. He was slightly out of position today, but you wouldn't know it from his performance. Jacob is a player that always displays the right attitude and commits to every performance. I thought he looked physically very good, very quick and direct, and I was pleased to see him contributing to the goals.

Being unbeaten doesn't mean anything for when the season starts, because that's unpredictable, but I think it's given us a really good chance of starting the season well. The commitment and drive to be successful is there in the group again. The spirit is very strong and these are all key characteristics of any team. Confidence levels seem to be good, we seem to be believing in each other, and we seem to know that we can get better as well. There's hopefully still a lot more room for us to show how good we can be.

If you could've given me this position we're in now (at the start of pre-season), I'd certainly have taken it. We've got near enough a full and healthy squad, which is probably the main criteria. The only fresh injury concern we have from this pre-season is Fabi (Schär), but fingers crossed he'll be okay.

I love pre-season because you get to experiment and try different things, but I do love the Premier League games where it really means something. We're determined to be successful again so we're looking forward to that challenge."

What did Harvey Barnes have to say?

Our brace-scoring, home-debuting winger also spoke to the club's official website:

"It was good. For me, it was obviously a good experience playing at home. It was nice to box it off with two goals. It's nice to get your first goal out of the way, then the pressure's off and you can go and enjoy yourself now.

It's important (to score). You want to come in and make that first impression as an attacking player. My job in this team is to score goals, create goals, and help the team out in whichever way I can. Today it was good to help out with a couple of goals and it should lead to a lot of confidence now.

It's something I've worked on over the last couple of years those sorts of finishes (first-time ones). Those sort of chances in games need to be taken, that's why you're in the team and you need to be clinical.

It feels like I've been here a lot longer already (than two weeks). I feel like I've settled in really well. They're a great bunch of lads, it's been so easy to settle in and it feels like home already. It's given me a really good platform to go and have a great season with the lads, I'm feeling really good.

The club prides itself on playing attacking football and scoring goals. We've got players in the team that are clinical so it doesn't surprise me that we've scored so many goals (in pre-season).

It was great support today but I'm looking forward to next week when it'll be a sellout and it'll be rocking. It's going to be an exciting season for us all and I just can't wait to get started now."

What's next for NUFC?

Newcastle are next in action in the opening game of the 2023/24 Premier League on Saturday (12th August).

Kick-off against Unai Emery's Aston Villa is at 5.30 p.m. and the game will be broadcast live on Sky Sports in the UK and Ireland.

Howay the lads!