Newcastle 2-0 Nottingham Forest: Fabian Schar’s rocket and Callum Wilson’s delightful chip seal all three points for the Magpies… as Steve Cooper’s side fall to defeat in their return to the Premier League
- Newcastle cruised to a 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest on Saturday afternoon
- Fabian Schar opened the scoring with a thumping long-range strike
- Before Callum Wilson rounded off the afternoon with a delightful chip
- Steve Cooper’s Forest struggled for possession in their Premier League return
Eddie Howe warned his Newcastle players they needed to be ‘cool, calm and collected’ amid the frenzy of an opening-day St James’ Park.
For the best part of an hour, as dominant as they were, that composure eluded them. How thankful he will be, then, that a centre-half had a rush to the head 25 yards from goal and duly found the top corner.
Fabian Schar has form for such moments – not all of it good, as folk in the low rows will testify – but when the Swiss gets his timing right, his dispatches can prove just about unstoppable.
Fabian Schär opened the scoring with a thumping long-range strike in the 58th minute
And his timing for Howe and Newcastle was perfect here. Let us be clear, Newcastle schooled Nottingham Forest from start to finish but, as chance after chance passed them by, you wondered whether the visitors were about to spoil their way to a point on their return to the Premier League after 23 years away.
Schar’s intervention, then, was needed. Collecting the ball 40 yards out, he strode forward unopposed and accepted the invitation to shoot. He was encouraged, too, by a crowd growing a little frustrated with a scoreline that was no reflection of their side’s superiority.
Forest debutant Dean Henderson is a confident boy, though, and would have backed himself to stop an effort from such distance. Even at the point of contact it appeared speculative. So the sound of Schar’s strike kissing the inside of the post would have felt like a smack in the mouth for the goalkeeper, rendered helpless by the precision of the execution.
Newcastle looked the stronger side before their centre-back eventually opened the scoring
Newcastle (4-3-3): Pope 6.5; Trippier 5, Schar 7.5, Burn 8, Targett 6.5; Willock 6 (S Longstaff 81), Guimaraes 7 (Botman 90), Joelinton 7; Almiron 6.5 (Fraser 81), Wilson 6.5 (Wood 89), Saint-Maximin 7 (Murphy 89)
Nottingham Forest (4-3-1-2): Henderson 6; Worrall 5.5, Niakhate 6 (Mighten 83), McKenna 5; Williams 5.5, O’Brien 6.5 (Mangala 75), Colback 6.5, Toffolo 6; Lingard 4.5; Johnson 5, Surridge 5 (Awoniyi 63)
Booked: Worrall, Williams
Ref: S Hooper 7
‘It was strike from a player who is capable of special moments,’ said Howe. ‘He does things the unconventional way. I wouldn’t have reached the goal from there. I was questioning his decision when he lined it up. We needed a goal like that to break the deadlock.’
Callum Wilson made sure of a result that was never in doubt once Schar had broken through. His goal was a belter, too, albeit far more subtle, directing the cutest of chips over Henderson 12 minutes from time.
It means Newcastle have won on day one of the campaign – it took them 15 attempts last season. And how different this feels to 12 months ago, a 4-2 defeat by West Ham when Steve Bruce’s side were – as his players later revealed – not fit enough for the Premier League.
Callum Wilson wheels away in celebration after scoring Newcastle’s second goal
There is no danger of that under Howe. What they do need is more quality in the final third, not that the head coach was in the mood for any criticism given the intent, verve and energy of his team’s display.
‘We needed to be patient,’ he said. ’But it was a brilliant performance from us from start to finish. There were certain moments when we could have done better and I will perhaps watch the game back with a more critical eye.
‘But everything I asked of the players they have given me. Everyone was committed. Today was a good example of where we want the team to be.’
Where they want to be is challenging for Europe and, on this evidence, they are perhaps only one offensive player shy of making that a reality in their first season under Saudi-backed ownership.
For Steve Cooper’s Forest, they will have to discover far more attacking intent if they are to give themselves a shot at survival. They did not register a single effort on target. Marquee signing Jesse Lingard was miles off, while Brennan Johnson was shackled by the excellent pairing of Schar and Dan Burn, justifying Howe’s decision to start with them ahead of £32million signing Sven Botman.
Indeed, it looked like Howe had got everything right early on. It was the sort of adrenalin-fuelled performance you would have expected from the hosts. But, for all of that, Henderson was not forced into anything resembling drastic action come half-time.
Howe had told his players that to feed off the noise and excitement of the crowd was all well and good, but in stressing the need for composure he had also revealed a concern. It proved well founded. Fourteen efforts on goal in the first half were either wayward, snatched at or lacking conviction and Wilson, in a revealing statistic, had touched the ball only six times.
The second half began in much the same manner and Allan Saint-Maximin had not long been denied by Henderson from close range when Schar sought a different route to goal. It would prove the path to a well-deserved victory.