JEDDAH: Ten-man Newcastle United ran out 2-1 winners over Saudi Pro League leaders Al-Ittihad on Friday in a friendly match in Jeddah that was marred by two red cards.
The Magpies’ Ciaran Clark and Al-Ittihad’s Abderazak Hamdallah were given their marching orders in the second-half for an altercation in which the home player appeared to kick out at the Ireland international, who retaliated.
There were no lingering hard feelings, however, and the pair were pictured swapping shirts and pleasantries after the game at Prince Abdullah Al-Faisal Stadium, which marked the conclusion of United’s six-day training camp in the Kingdom.
Allan Saint-Maximin and Ryan Fraser netted for the Magpies, one in each half, bookending an equalizer just before the break by Hamdallah.
“It was a good work out,” said Newcastle manager Eddie Howe. “The standard of the game was good. The standard of the opposition was good, too.
“It was a good test for us and I think when you play a game like this, that’s what you want. We were set certain challenges when the game went to 10 players each and we’re pleased we came through.”
In a game that the sides had agreed to shorten to 70 minutes, United took the lead after only nine minutes when a weaving, jinking run from Frenchman Saint-Maximin ended with the forward smashing home from inside the area.
The goal was canceled out on 33 minutes when Morocco international Hamdallah beat the offside trap before finishing expertly to put the ball past reserve keeper Karl Darlow, who was filling in for regular No.1 Martin Dubravka.
After the double red, Ryan Fraser finished a slick team move to clinch it for the Magpies with 13 minutes to go.
“Two very special goals,” said Howe. “Allan’s was typical Allan: Very special, trademark individual brilliance. Ryan’s goal was great to see, a good team goal and good finish.”
Howe was less impressed by the handling of the red cards incident.
“I was surprised it was a red in a game like this,” he said. “The referee could have probably dealt with it differently — but by the book, it probably was the right decision.”
The Magpies fly home to England on Saturday. Their next Premier League game is on Tuesday, Feb. 8, when they will take on managerless Everton at St. James’ Park.