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Howe delighted as ‘ruthless’ Newcastle kick off preseason with victory over Gateshead

NEWCASTLE: Newcastle United kicked off their preseason campaign on Saturday with a 5-1 win over Tyneside neighbors Gateshead, during which Paraguay international Miguel Almiron put on a two-goal show.

Matt Ritchie, Joelinton and Sean Longstaff also found the net for the Magpies during the game at their Benton training base, while Paul Blackett grabbed a consolation for the club managed by former United central defender Mike Williamson.

Head coach Eddie Howe said he was delighted with the ruthless display by his players against their National League opposition.

“You always look at your attitude,” he said. “I think both teams wanted to win. We played some really good stuff with the ball and naturally had much of the possession. You saw some excellent counterattacking at the end of the game where we showed a real ruthless side. I just wish we could have shown it sooner.”

Howe fielded two almost entirely different line-ups either side of half time, with only young defender Kell Watts playing the full 90 minutes.

“It was a good workout; hot, but that’s what you want to replicate, what it will be like on that first day,” said Howe. “A tough game, good opposition and 45 minutes (for each player) with a little run at the end — I think the players got what they needed out of it.

“It was just about reintroducing the lads to a full-size pitch. At this stage of the season, eight days in, we didn’t want to push them too much, so this was ideal. At this stage there is always a little bit of rustiness to get out of the players’ game.

“I did think we got better as we went on. Some things we did well, others we didn’t, but there is still a long way to go before that first game of the season.”

Veteran Ritchie opened the scoring for United when he latched onto a low cross from rising star Elliot Anderson, before slotting the ball past Heed keeper Dan Langley, who joined the fifth-tier side from Newcastle last week.

Just after the break, Longstaff was brought down in the area and Brazilian Joelinton, United’s player of the season last season, netted from the spot.

Blackett rounded keeper Karl Darlow to halve the deficit before United stepped on the gas, inspired by livewire Almiron. The forward outpaced the entire Gateshead back line to latch onto an Emil Krafth pass and make it 3-1. He extended the lead from close range soon after, before Longstaff, who missed a second-half penalty, added a fifth at the death.

New boys Sven Botman and Nick Pope did not play any part in the game but watched from the sidelines, as did fellow internationals Bruno Guimaraes, Fabian Schar and Chris Wood. That is unlikely to be the case when when United take on German sides 1860 Munich and Mainz in Austria on July 15 and 18 respectively.

“With those lads, we didn’t want to push them too quickly. We wanted to give them a little more time and be careful with them,” said Howe. “We hope we can keep the majority of the squad fit.

“Austria will be an important time for us. We have a lot of work to cram in during a very short space of time. I think the lads will go there and enjoy the week-to-10 days and when we come back we will be that much further forward.”

In the meantime, Howe was full of praise for the star of Saturday’s show, Almiron.

“Two great goals,” he said. “He showed his athleticism with the first and some composure with the second.

“He hasn’t done a lot of training and we gave him a little longer (break), with the other international players, but physically he didn’t show any problems.”

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