NEWCASTLE: Newcastle came from behind to see off Spain’s Valencia 2-1 in a pre-season friendly on Saturday as James Milner bagged a last-gasp winner.
Milner struck after Damien Duff had cancelled out Joaquin’s opener with 13 minutes remaining to give Kevin Keegan’s side a smidgen of optimism for the new English Premiership campaign following a summer of scant transfer activity on the back of a mediocre league campaign.
Technical problems with the visitors’ aircraft in Spain delayed the start of the game by two hours but Valencia were out of the blocks smartly with Joaquin’s goal on 13 minutes.
However the Magpies rallied after the break and Duff headed home on 77 minutes before Milner sealed the win in what was Newcastle’s last pre-season workout ahead of their tough Premiership opener against champions Manchester United at Old Trafford next Sunday.
Alan Smith, linked with Everton, started on the bench for the Magpies, while that was also the fate of Valencia’s Euro 2008 winner David Villa though both eventually entered the fray, Villa twice coming close to scoring.
Uncertainty has dogged Newcastle since the end of the season after billionaire owner Mike Ashley said he was seeking fresh investment in the club – although he maintains he is not looking to sell.
Sports goods retailer Ashley paid £130mil for the club 15 months ago.
But preparations for the new campaign were not helped by injuries to key personnel including strikers Michael Owen and Mark Viduka while fellow forward Obafemi Martins lost his mother in the aftermath of a petrol tanker accident that killed at least 12 people in his native Nigeria.
In addition, the club has had to battle the adverse publicity generated by a jail term for assault for troubled midfielder Joey Barton.
On the bright side, Newcastle United saw Spanish side Deportivo La Coruna accept their bid for Argentine defender Fabricio Coloccini in midweek. – AFP