Samuel Chukwueze’s late winner sent Newcastle crashing out of Europe after a 2-1 defeat by AC Milan on Wednesday.
Victory was not enough for last season’s semi-finalists to progress as Paris Saint-Germain’s 1-1 draw away to Borussia Dortmund was enough for the French champions to secure second place in Group F.
But Milan did snatch at least the consolation of a place in the Europa League away from the Magpies, whose first Champions League campaign in 20 years ended in disappointment.
Ravaged by a lengthy list of injuries, fatigue has taken its toll on Newcastle, who have now lost three consecutive games in all competitions.
Eddie Howe had been forced to name the same 10 outfield players for the previous five games due to a lack of options.
Callum Wilson’s return allowed Howe to make one alteration as he replaced Alexander Isak.
Milan have also been hamstrung by an injury crisis that forced Theo Hernandez to deputise at centre-back.
Fikayo Tomori was the only fit central defender available to Stefano Pioli and saved his side from falling behind early on.
The England international produced a stunning last-ditch tackle on his own goal-line to prevent Miguel Almiron tapping home Joelinton’s cross.
Rafael Leao’s return from injury boosted Milan’s hopes of salvaging their European season and the Portuguese winger was inches away from opening the scoring on a rare foray forward from the visitors before the break.
Instead, Newcastle’s pressure was met with some reward in a spectacular opening goal.
Anthony Gordon surged through the Milan midfield and played in Lewis Miley, who laid the ball back to Joelinton to fire a sweet strike into the top corner.
An already electric atmosphere was intensified at the start of the second half as news of Dortmund’s opener against PSG filtered through to the home support.
However, two goals in a matter of minutes turned the complexion of a gripping Group F once more.
The French champions equalised in Germany before Milan also got back on level terms.
Newcastle failed to deal with Leao’s cross from the left and Giroud set up Christian Pulisic to drill home on his return to England.
The game raged from end-to-end in the final stages with a draw no good for either side.
Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan produced a stunning save to turn Bruno Guimaraes’ shot onto the bar.
At the other end, Leao should have buried Newcastle’s Champions League dreams when he hit the post with just Martin Dubravka to beat.
However, Milan were more ruthless with their next opportunity as substitute Chukwueze curled brilliantly into the far corner six minutes from time.
The Italians should have added to their advantage in stoppage time as a stretched Newcastle became increasingly bedraggled.
Theo Hernandez missed an open goal after Dubravka had gone forward for a corner.
Tomori then sprinted forward on the counter-attack to hit the post.
But Milan did their job on the night, if not over the course of the group, to at least ensure they have European football to look forward to in 2024.
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