Ki Sung-yueng made his Newcastle United debut tonight as fans backed Rafa Benitez in his transfer window stand-off with Mike Ashley.
Benitez’s side came from behind to draw 2-2 with Championship club Hull City at the KCOM Stadium.
Joselu had opened the scoring, but goals from Todd Kane and Evandro put the home side ahead. Ayoze Perez equalised late in the game.
The friendly kicked off after talk of protests against owner Ashley following the revelation that Benitez was having to sell to buy in this summer’s transfer market.
And supporters chanted for Benitez – and against Ashley, who wanted his manager to sign a new deal before discussing a transfer budget.
Benitez had hinted at his frustrations during the club’s training camp in Ireland, which culminated in a 2-0 win over St Patrick’s Athletic.
“It is not ideal, but we’ll try to manage the best way possible,” said Benitez.
Benitez is good at managing, but he needs more, much more. The team Benitez named at the KCOM Stadium had a familiar look to it, though Ki, signed as a free agent, was among the substitutes. Kenedy wasn’t involved.
With just over two weeks of the transfer window left, Benitez is still short of five players, notably a striker.
The club isn’t short of backing, and Newcastle were well-supported at the KCOM Stadium. There were around 2,000 travelling fans at the stadium for the game – and they loudly chanted Benitez’s name.
Newcastle had the better of the opening exchanges, and Hull goalkeeper David Marshall tipped over a cross-cum-shot from makeshift left-back Callum Roberts.
The breakthrough came in the 14th minute. Jonjo Shelvey delivered an angled ball from the centre of the pitch to Joselu, which beat the home team’s offside trap. Joselu calmly beat Marshall with his first touch.
Nouha Dicko had a shot blocked by United captain Jamaal Lascelles at the other end of the pitch, but the momentum was with Benitez’s side, and Shelvey forced a save from Marshall, kept busy by United, with a free-kick.
Matt Ritchie also tested Marshall with a free-kick, and Jacob Murphy had a follow-up effort cleared off the line.
Hull rallied late in the half, and Kane levelled for Hull from with a deflected shot from a goalmouth scramble before the break.
Benitez made six changes for the second half, and substitute goalkeeper Freddie Woodman did well to deny Dicko.
But Woodman couldn’t stop a 62nd-minute shot from Evandro, who had latched on to a loose ball following an Isaac Hayden tackle on Dicko.
Ki replaced Shelvey for the last 20 minutes.
Marshall beat away a late free-kick from Ritchie before Perez produced an 87th-minute equaliser from a corner.
Newcastle were given a competitive 90 minutes ahead of what Benitez feels will be an even more competitive campaign.
And the club’s second pre-season friendly underlined the work that still must be done – on and off the pitch – between now and the start of the new Premier League season.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Darlow (Woodman, 46); Yedlin (Sterry, 46), Lascelles (Clark, 46), Yarney (Hayden, 54), Roberts (Manquillo, 46); Shelvey (Ki, 70), Diame ((Fernandez, 61; Murphy (Aarons, 46), Longstaff, Ritchie; Joselu (Perez, 46). Sub not used: Dubravka.