Newcastle United held on to defeat Vitesse in a nervy 3-2 victory at St James' Park. An own goal from Kelvin Leerdam and strikes from Dwight Gayle and Jack Colback gave the Geordies a 3-0 lead at half-time. However, in the second period, Arnhem began to mount a comeback with two second-half goals but Rafael Benitez' men held out for the win.
Vittese have been labeled as "Chelsea reserves" in recent years due to the links between the two clubs. And it was a Chelsea loanee in Lewis Baker that produced the first shot at goal after Matz Sels saved brilliantly for the midfielder's free-kick effort.
New signing Matt Ritchie, who returned from injury to start the game, was very lively in the first period with his precise deliveries. However, Ritchie found himself in the box on 22 minutes to cannon a back-post shot off the legs of Leerdam with the ball rebounding in the net.
Benitez decided to field an attacking side with a front four including Ayoze Perez, Ritchie and Gayle. And it was Perez and Gayle who combined in a great move for Gayle to latch on to the ball to clinically finish past Elory Room.
Perez was involved again moments later to whip an in-swinging cross into the path of Colback who headed in emphatically for 3-0 at the interval.
Nearly a second-half collapse – conceding from two set-pieces
After a building a solid 3-0 advantage, it was shortly turned to two on eight minutes into the second-half when another Chelsea loanee in Nathan found himself unmarked from a corner to score just outside the six-yard area.
The Magpies evidently became nervous, and matters were not helped when Kashia got Vitesse's second on 61 minutes. And the scoreline could have so nearly been level but inceptions from Daryl Janmaat and Jonjo Shelvey preserved the Toon Army’s lead.
But Benitez' men regrouped to return their first-half form by keeping the Dutch side at bare, releasing pressures off themselves in the mean time. Next up for Newcastle United is their Championship opener against Fulham at Craven Cottage on Friday night (August 5). The Geordies will hope that the second-half display against Vitesse will be rectified in this week’s training.