Newcastle had been waiting 20 years for a night like this and it was worth the wait for 50,000 Geordies as the Magpies blew away Paris Saint-Germain 4-1 to announce their arrival as a Champions League threat. The first ever meeting between the clubs pitted the sporting interests of Saudi Arabia up against Qatar. Saudi emerged victorious and in some style as Newcastle’s rapid rise less than two years since the Gulf Kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund took control of the club shows no signs of stopping.
Not since PSG’s collapse to lose a 4-0 first leg lead in a 6-1 defeat at Barcelona in 2017 have the French champions suffered such a humbling on the Champions League stage.
Yet, the star-studded project is still yet to conquer Europe and there were lessons for PSG to learn on and off the pitch at St. James’ Park.
Despite spending nearly 400 million pounds ($483 million) on new players, Newcastle are not even among the top spenders in the Premier League since the Saudi-backed takeover.
Three of their goalscorers on Wednesday — Miguel Almiron, Sean Longstaff and Fabian Schar — were already at the club when they were fighting relegation from the English top-flight just two years ago.
The other, Dan Burn, has fought his way to the top from starting his career in the sixth tier of English football at Blyth Spartans and cost £13 million from Brighton in 2021.
Both Burn and Longstaff are lifelong fans of their hometown club and grew up watching Newcastle from the stands of St. James’ Park.
“For me and Burny to score is unreal,” said Longstaff.
“There’s a few here who probably thought three years ago we were out the door. I’m so proud to be from Newcastle, I’m over the moon.”
PSG outthought and outfought
PSG have long been criticised for failing to make the most of the hotbed of talent on their doorstep in the French capital.
Most famously, they lost their only Champions League final to Bayern Munich from a goal scored by Parisian-born Kingsley Coman, who left PSG as a teenager.
Luis Enrique warned before the game that Newcastle were the side from the lowest pot of seeds for the group stage that everyone wanted to avoid.
Yet it did not stop the former Barcelona boss from naming three big money summer signings Ousmane Dembele, Goncalo Ramos and Randal Kolo Muani alongside Mbappe in a front four.
Not for the first time in the Champions League, PSG’s individuals were outthought and outfought by a greater collective unit.
Roared on by an incredible atmosphere, Newcastle made sure their Champions League homecoming was a night that will not be forgotten, even if the locals party into the small hours.
“They will be (proud) and I think they will probably be a bit drunk as well,” added Longstaff on his family’s reaction.
“They probably weren’t planning to drink on a Wednesday night but that might have changed!”
Newcastle’s new era appeared to have been given a Champions League baptism of fire with last season’s semi-finalists AC Milan and Borussia Dortmund also in the toughest section of the draw.
But Eddie Howe’s men are top the group after two games.
The hope on Tyneside is that this is just the start of a journey towards one day winning the Champions League.
Not for the first time, PSG showed a fellow state-backed club how not to go about that goal.