Five-star Newcastle destroy Aston Villa at raucous St James' Park

Day to remember for the Toon as Isak scores twice and Tonali opens account

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Newcastle United built on the feel-good factor of last season as they served up an opening day 5-1 thrashing to Aston Villa at St James' Park on Saturday evening.

Striker Alexander Isak scored either side of half-time, while earlier there had been a debut goal from impressive Italian international Sandro Tonali.

Another debut goal, for Villa's Moussa Diaby, had briefly levelled the game but the visitors were well beaten.

Substitutes Harvey Barnes and Callum Wilson combined for the latter to make it 4-1 with 20 minutes remaining and it got even worse as Barnes, another player enjoying a memorable debut, waltzed through the ragged Villa defence for number five.

Afterwards, a jubilant Isak, who was full of praise for the overall performance and his new teammates, said: "We wanted to give a good first impression, win the game, be very positive and we managed to score so many goals. I had some trouble last season. I feel good now, got a good start and hopefully I can stay fit and keep going this way."

He added: "I think prior to Tonali's arrival we all knew his quality and today, it is not easy to come to a new league and make such a debut as he did. The same as Harvey [Barnes], so really impressive. We all know the quality we have in the squad. You always want to play good and the sooner the better. I am happy for the team and those players.

"I think the players we brought in fit really well with this team. You see the speed and how dangerous we can be on the counter-attack. I think the additions have been good and it's only going to get better."

The hosts made a flying start to the game with Anthony Gordon at the heart of everything for the Magpies.

The England under-21 winger - player of the tournament at this summer's U21 Euros - was full of pace and trickery down the left flank.

His quality told after just six minutes as he got the beating of his man and whipped an inviting cross into the box for the onrushing Tonali to volley home and open his Newcastle account.

Moments later the duo combined again, only this time Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez was able to partially block the Italian's shot and the ball squirmed wide.

Villa had barely had a kick but out of nowhere they were level.

Lucas Digne's cultured left foot created the chance as his cross was helped on to Diaby who arrived late and steered a half-volley inside the right-hand post.

Villa scarcely deserved parity and moments later it was snatched away from them.

This time it was a set-piece that did the damage as the ball was shifted to Tonali and his deep cross was squared by Dan Burn for Isak to fire home.

Newcastle continued to dominate but Villa's threat on the counter was again exemplified by Diaby as he raced clear and squared for Ollie Watkins to shoot tamely wide.

A pulsating opening half hour was only brought to a halt by a serious knee injury to England defender Tyrone Mings, who received oxygen as he was stretchered off.

The break gave Villa a chance to regroup and they finished the half in better shape. Diaby had another sight of goal but missed at the near post when well-placed.

Martinez then endured a moment of madness as he wildly charged from his line to take out Miguel Almiron. Defensive cover meant it was only a yellow, but it was cynical from the Argentine World Cup winner.

Newcastle managed to reassert their control after the break but were given a helping hand as Ezri Konsa dithered and Isak took full advantage to make it 3-1.

Moments later Almiron released the Swede again and only a smart save from Martinez stopped him wrapping up his hat-trick.

By now it was one-way traffic and dismal Villa were unravelling in real time.

Replacements Barnes and Wilson combined - the former crossing for the latter - for goal number four.

And Barnes stormed through the non-existent Villa defence to wrap things up with a ruthless fifth.

Updated: August 13, 2023, 3:25 PM