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Chukwueze shines as AC Milan beat Newcastle

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Chukwueze seals AC Milan Europa League spot after Champions League exit

AC Milan substitute Samuel Chukwueze struck a superb late winner to seal a 2-1 victory over Newcastle United as both teams exited the Champions League at St James’ Park on Wednesday.

At one point on a nerve-jangling climax to Group F, Newcastle were heading for the last 16 as they led through Joelinton’s rasping first-half drive and Paris St Germain trailed in Germany to Borussia Dortmund.

But seven-times champions Milan were far better in the second half as Newcastle ran out of steam and Christian Pulisic equalised on the hour from Olivier Giroud’s pass.

With both sides going for victory, Bruno Guimaraes had a shot tipped on to the crossbar by Milan keeper Mike Maignan before Rafael Leao hit the post at the other end.

Milan had won only one of their previous 21 encounters in Europe away to English opposition in 2005, but Chukwueze made it a memorable night for the Serie A side when he curled past Martin Dubravka in the 84th minute following a slick counter-attack.

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The final whistle saw tempers boil over as Newcastle’s frustration was obvious.

Milan’s joy was muted as news of PSG’s 1-1 draw at Dortmund meant the French club finished runners-up in the group with eight points, the same as Milan but with a better head-to-head. Milan go into the Europa League, while Newcastle, who finished bottom with five, bow out of Europe.

Roared on by the home fans, injury-ravaged Newcastle dominated the first half and deservedly led when Joelinton smashed a rising drive past Maignan after being teed up by 17-year-old midfielder Lewis Miley.

Milan barely mustered an effort on goal, although Leao did pose a threat on the rare attacking foray.

Stefano Pioli’s side looked rejuvenated after the interval and equalised when Leao’s low cross ended up at the feet of Giroud, who shifted it on to fellow former Chelsea player Pulisic to fire into the net.

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Anxiety gripped St. James’ Park, but when Leao’s shot struck the post after he was played clean through, it seemed the hosts might still muster the victory they needed.

But it was not to be, as their first Champions League campaign in two decades ended in crushing disappointment.

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