Newcastle United made a comfortable start to the new season thanks to goals from Fabian Schar and Callum Wilson in a 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest on Saturday, giving the visitors an unhappy return to the Premier League after a 23-year absence.
Newcastle took the lead through the unlikeliest of goalscorers when centre back Schar let fly from the edge of the penalty area just before the hour mark, before Wilson struck 10 minutes later to cap a classy opening day display in Tyneside.
“When (Schar) was lining up to shoot I was questioning his decision, but it was the right one,” Newcastle manager Eddie Howe said. “He’s capable of the unexpected.
“I thought the players were excellent from start to finish. It was a performance of real promise. I’m feeling very positive after watching that.”
A poor clearance from Forest resulted in Allan Saint-Maximin’s cross being headed clear to Schar, whose goal provided some relief for Howe’s side after a dominant but fruitless opening period at St James’ Park.
With 12 minutes remaining, Forest’s Brandon Williams gave the ball away and Saint-Maximin rolled it to Joelinton down the left-hand side. The Brazilian crossed for Wilson, who looped the ball over goalkeeper Dean Henderson with a smart finish.
“I back myself, I want to go the World Cup so it’s about hitting the ground running. I’m disappointed I didn’t score more,” said Wilson, who hit the side netting in the closing stages of the match.
“We were dominant with the ball but we didn’t score – but in the second half, the quality showed… We started well today but we don’t want to get carried away.”
Saint-Maximin, Joelinton, Joe Willock and Miguel Almiron had all seen chances come and go in the first half as Newcastle were unable to find a way past the Forest defence despite registering six out of 14 shots on target and enjoying 65% possession.
Forest had a sniff of goal towards the end of the first half but were denied an unlikely opener by Schar, who produced an outstanding block to deny new signing Jesse Lingard inside the Newcastle area.
Steve Cooper’s side, who were promoted after beating Huddersfield Town in the Championship playoff, were handed a stern reality check on their top-flight return and did not register a shot on target.
“Yes they had loads of the ball but we stayed compact and progressive with our defending. But what wasn’t at the required level today was when we had the ball, there were too many turnovers,” Cooper said.
“We were second best, no doubt… I really believe in these players and how we play – we’ve won a lot of games, I know it was in a different league, but we need to believe.”
Newcastle will travel to Brighton & Hove Albion next Saturday while Forest will host West Ham United at the City Ground.