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Borussia Dortmund 2-0 Newcastle: Julian Brandt and Niclas Fullkrug subject Eddie Howe’s side to back-to-back defeats in the Champions League as hosts go top of Group of Death

They said it was the Group of Death and the priest is readying the last rites on Newcastle United‘s Champions League campaign. First, they must pray for a miracle.

Back-to-back defeats by streetwise Dortmund means Eddie Howe‘s side will almost certainly need to beat Paris Saint-Germain later this month to stay alive. They have done so before, of course, but that 4-1 victory at St. James’ Park seems a lot longer than five weeks ago now.

Newcastle, we thought, were ready to take Europe by storm after that famous win. Instead, they have been blown away by Dortmund, and the damage feels terminal. PSG remains the only game in which they have scored.

The mystery is that, while they were again blinded by the lights of a big European night, they continue to shine domestically. Dortmund are the only team to beat them in the last 13 matches. You cannot use injuries as mitigation, given their brilliant Premier League form. 

For Newcastle, depleted or not, are better than they have shown over two games against Dortmund, and they froze for much of their goalless draw in Milan, too. Milan’s goalkeeper did not have a save to make that night, and Gregor Kobel was untroubled here as well.

Niclas Fullkrug's strike put Borussia Dortmund ahead after several Newcastle defensive errors Niclas Fullkrug's strike put Borussia Dortmund ahead after several Newcastle defensive errors

Niclas Fullkrug’s strike put Borussia Dortmund ahead after several Newcastle defensive errors

The injury-stricken visitors struggled to impose themselves early on in the encounter The injury-stricken visitors struggled to impose themselves early on in the encounter

The injury-stricken visitors struggled to impose themselves early on in the encounter

Julian Brandt was impressive for the hosts and scored the second goal of the game Julian Brandt was impressive for the hosts and scored the second goal of the game

Julian Brandt was impressive for the hosts and scored the second goal of the game 

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MATCH FACTS AND PLAYER RATINGS

BORUSSIA DORTMUND (4-2-3-1): Kobel 6.5; Sule 6.5, Hummels 7, Schlotterbeck 7; Ryerson 6.5; Sabitzer 7, Ozcan 6.5; Brandt 8, Nmecha 6.5, Adeyemi 7 (Reus 81min); Fullkrug 7.5 (Moukoko 87).

Goals: Fullkrug 26, Brandt 79.

Manager: Edin Terzic 7.

NEWCASTLE (4-3-3): Pope 6.5; Trippier 5, Schar 6, Lascelles 5.5; Hall 5.5 (Almiron 46, 6); Longstaff 5.5, Guimaraes 5, Willock 6 (Miley 80); Livramento 7; Wilson 5 (Gordon 46, 6.5), Joelinton 5.5.

Booked: Hall. 

Manager: Eddie Howe 6.

MOTM: Brandt 8 

Referee: Alejandro Hernandez Hernandez (Spain) 7. 

Attendance: 81,365.

It has left Howe with much to ponder about how his team make the next step in European competition. Dortmund taught Newcastle a lesson in a 1-0 win on Tyneside two weeks ago and this, at times, was another schooling. 

Quite simply, they just look like a better Champions League outfit. Newcastle, by comparison, are starting to look like the novices they are at this level. 

Their entire squad has five Champions League goals between them. Dortmund brought on a player, Marco Reus, who has 22 on his own. This, then, is proving the learning curve it always threatened to be. The high of PSG looks like being the exception, not the rule.

The self-inflicted nature of the goals conceded was an example of their naivety. They actually arrived in periods when Newcastle were playing their best football, but those moments were all too fleeting. A shocking miss by Joelinton at 1-0 was always likely to be costly.

Still, they were in the game when Kieran Trippier lined up a free-kick with 11 minutes to play. There was an air of anticipation among the 4,000 travelling fans but that was soon replaced by a whiff of booze as they puffed their disappointment when a flat delivery was cleared.

It got worse. Dortmund broke and Julian Brandt finished both his chance and the contest. The hosts were deserved winners.

Howe had asked for a fast start but got a slow one. He had wanted his team to control the atmosphere, but controlling the ball was their greatest challenge. Twice inside the opening 15 minutes they needed Nick Pope to paddle clear from Niclas Fullkrug and then Karim Adeyemi, both slamming on goal when afforded too much space.

The visitors had only just discovered more solid ground after that shaky opening when they fell in a hole and fell behind. It was an uncharacteristic concession and would have infuriated Howe.

Brazilian midfielder Joelinton's shocking miss at 1-0 to Dortmund always looked to prove costly Brazilian midfielder Joelinton's shocking miss at 1-0 to Dortmund always looked to prove costly

Brazilian midfielder Joelinton’s shocking miss at 1-0 to Dortmund always looked to prove costly

Miguel Almiron came on at the break for Lewis Hall and although there was an improvement he could not force an equaliser Miguel Almiron came on at the break for Lewis Hall and although there was an improvement he could not force an equaliser

Miguel Almiron came on at the break for Lewis Hall and although there was an improvement he could not force an equaliser

Tino Livramento had an impressive Champions League debut at the back and dealt with Karim Adeyemi well throughout Tino Livramento had an impressive Champions League debut at the back and dealt with Karim Adeyemi well throughout

Tino Livramento had an impressive Champions League debut at the back and dealt with Karim Adeyemi well throughout

Veteran Mats Hummels (left) was called into action early on but remained resolute throughout Veteran Mats Hummels (left) was called into action early on but remained resolute throughout

Veteran Mats Hummels (left) was called into action early on but remained resolute throughout

Dortmund’s part in the goal was hardly slick and they repeatedly gave Newcastle the chance to clear, an invitation repeatedly declined. Finally, the ball ran to Marcel Sabitzer and his scruffy cross evaded the recovering Lewis Hall and Fullkrug turned in unmarked from six yards. The finish was the first convincing act of the entire passage.

Howe responded by making a double change at half-time. Off came Hall – he was on a booking – and striker Callum Wilson, who had endured a frustrating half of just four touches. He now joins an injury list that has tipped double figures after complaining of a tight hamstring.

Wingers Anthony Gordon and Miguel Almiron were introduced and immediately there was an improvement. Suddenly, they looked like Premier League Newcastle, all pace and purpose. Sadly, for them, their best chance fell to the old version of Joelinton, the centre-forward who couldn’t hit a barn door, nor the back of a net.

Tino Livramento delivered from the right and the Brazilian only had to turn in an unmarked header from inside the six-yard area. Somehow, he glanced wide. Howe buried his head in his hands and strode ruefully down the touchline. If only it was his brow on the end of it, for even at 45 the former defender would have converted from there.

The hosts quite simply looked a better team at this level than Newcastle on the night The hosts quite simply looked a better team at this level than Newcastle on the night

The hosts quite simply looked a better team at this level than Newcastle on the night

The game was momentarily halted at the start of the second half as fans unfurled a banner seemingly against UEFA The game was momentarily halted at the start of the second half as fans unfurled a banner seemingly against UEFA

The game was momentarily halted at the start of the second half as fans unfurled a banner seemingly against UEFA

You would like to think he would have also taken a better free-kick than the one Trippier served up leading to Dortmund’s second, failing to beat the man at the near post. 

And maybe Howe would have run back quicker than those who ambled in support of Livramento, left in a hopeless two-on-one situation. He hedged his bets in between Brandt and Sabitzer and lost. 

The scorer went it alone and, even as the ball rolled beyond Pope, Livramento was still the only green jersey in the penalty area. That would have left Howe feeling sick – his team are rarely questioned for desire and work-rate.

But for the second matchday running Newcastle were left in the shade by the brilliant yellow of Dortmund. It leaves them staring into the darkness of a Champions League adventure that feels all but over.

IT’S ALL KICKING OFF! 

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Premier LeagueEddie HoweNick Pope

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