CALLUM WILSON and Allan Saint-Maximin ensured Newcastle ended pre-season on a high with a 2-1 victory over Athletic Bilbao.
But while Eddie Howe’s side dazzled early on, they were battered towards the end by the Basque boys and were lucky to sign off with a win ahead of next Saturday’s Prem opener against Nottingham Forest.
Toon started on fire and their opener was a thing of beauty, created by magic man Saint-Maximin darting in off the left and feeding onrushing right winger Matt Ritchie.
The Scot slipped Wilson in, who worked it onto his left and buried into the bottom corner after just five minutes.
Classy Bruno Guimaraes was purring in midfield, and the 46,856 at St James’ Park were having much more fun than those who watched the second-strong attack labour to a 1-0 against Atalanta on Friday night.
The drop off when Wilson and Saint-Maximin aren’t involved is stark, and the latter showed he is ready and set to fly into the new season with Newcastle’s second goal.
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Joelinton played the winger in down the left but, just on the halfway line, there was still plenty to do.
The French flyer just about stayed onside and turned on the afterburners, skipping into the box and burying in the bottom corner before wowing the Gallowgate with a typically acrobatic celebration.
The LaLiga side had rarely threatened at the other end but pulled one back with 26 minutes remaining when sub Raul Garcia nodded home a floated cross.
And Alejandro Berenguer was inches away from equalising soon after but his long-range curler clipped the outside of the post with keeper Martin Dubravka beaten.
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Striker Inaki Williams was next, firing a low cross just wide, and Dubravka was called upon twice in the last 15 minutes to secure the win.
Howe’s side stepped off the gas after going 2-0 up but there was more than enough encouragement beforehand that they are ready to hit the ground running against Forest next Saturday.
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