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Newcastle come from behind to draw 3-3 with Villa



Ollie Watkins scored Aston Villa’s opening goal after seven minutes

Newcastle United and Aston Villa played out an exciting 3-3 draw in Philadelphia as both sides continued their preparation for the new season and return to European football.

The Magpies have qualified for the Champions League for the first time in 20 years, while Villa will be in the Europa Conference League.

Ollie Watkins and Emiliano Buendia put Villa 2-0 ahead inside 11 minutes in the Premier League Summer Series match, before Elliot Anderson and Alexander Isak got Newcastle back on level terms.

Buendia added a second after the break, with England striker Callum Wilson equalising in the 55th minute.

The game saw Newcastle’s new £38m winger Harvey Barnes make his debut among a raft of new signings on display for both sides at the Lincoln Financial Field.

Here is what else we learned.

A new shape for Newcastle

Pre-season is a time for trying new ideas and Newcastle manager Eddie Howe definitely did that in the match against Aston Villa.

Last season you could get close to naming Howe’s favoured team and formation as they went on to secure fourth place in the Premier League.

However, during this match Howe opted for a back three, which included England defender Kieran Trippier as a right-sided centre-back.

The first period of the game they were open and conceding chances.

They grew into the game after that and you could see the reason why Howe could be looking to change to this system for the coming season.

New £55m signing Sandro Tonali was paired with Bruno Guimaraes in the middle of the pitch and Isak was well supported by the midfield as Newcastle ended the first half on level terms.

“We just tried something different today,” said Howe.

“We’re aware of the competitions we’re in next year and there is a feeling we are going to need to be flexible at some stage next season.

“If that’s a system we start with or go to in a game, we just felt that it was a good game to trial that in pre-season.”

Tonali and Barnes make debuts

Harvey Barnes
Harvey Barnes (right) made his debut just hours after his move from Leicester was confirmed

Howe said Tonali has looked “to be everything that we hoped he would be” since he arrived from AC Milan.

The Italian worked well with Guimaraes in the first half and his performance against Premier League opposition will have excited Newcastle fans.

England winger Barnes made his debut the same day his £38m transfer from Leicester was confirmed.

The 25-year-old came on for the final 20 minutes of the match but as in most pre-season friendlies, the end of the game was a bit chaotic.

“You saw today he has the athleticism we require – some really sharp moments with bursts of speed,” said Howe. “That cut-in from the left is probably his trademark. We’re excited by what he could bring.”

Tonali, when he came off at half-time, and Barnes after the final whistle did extra running work, so there will be a lot more to come from both of these signings once they are up to full fitness.

Torres and Villa’s squad depth

Villa signed Pau Torres for £31.5m, which was a real statement of intent from the club.

Torres came on at half-time and partnered Diego Carlos, who was also introduced for the second half, at the heart of defence.

It will take some time for Torres to settle into his new surroundings, but you could see the quality that the Spain international has on the ball.

A number of times he dribbled out of defence and started attacking moves with his passing.

Youri Tielemans was on the bench for Villa. Moussa Diaby has just arrived from Bayer Leverkusen but has not yet integrated into the squad, and Villa started with a midfield of John McGinn, Buendia, Douglas Luiz and Boubacar Kamara, which shows their strength in depth.

There are a lot of experienced of players who will be looking to play and manager Unai Emery will have to keep them happy over the course of the season.

Buendia produces ‘perfect’ performance

Emiliano Buendia celebrating his goal
Emiliano Buendia scored two goals and set up another for Villa

Buendia put in a player-of-the-match performance against Newcastle.

He was sharp throughout the match and showed strength, speed and the perfect weight of pass to set up Watkins for the opening goal.

Buendia scored in the first half before doubling his tally in the second. He could have had a hat-trick, which would have capped a very impressive performance.

Emery thinks that there is more to come from the Argentine.

“We are trying to get his quality behind the opponents’ midfield line,” he said. “Today he did perfect. His performance was very good.”

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