‘Geordie Maradona’ has staged new talent worth over £125million to show Eddie Howe he’s ready to shine for Newcastle next season.
Elliot Anderson, 20, recovered from a shocking early miss to pull Toon back from 2-0 to 2-2 against Aston Villa. In doing so, he reminded Magpies boss Eddie Howe that he’s more than good enough to play a leading role in the Tyneside Revolution.
Emi Buendia was Villa’s standout side in Philadelphia, providing an assist and two goals in an entertaining 3-3 draw.
Anderson, who quickly became the star of Newcastle’s pre-season, played just 45 minutes but scored one goal and set up another.
Despite expensive signings on both sides Pau Torres, Sandro Tonali and Harvey Barnes – who played 20 minutes just hours after his £38m move from Leicester – it was the Newcastle Academy midfielder who stood out.
It was a nightmare start as after Ollie Watkins’ opener on Buendia’s assist he missed the ball completely and the goal gaped.
The Argentine continued his brilliant start, firing from his left post at the near post to give Villa a 2-0 lead within 11 minutes.
Newcastle have consistently stuck to the 4-3-3 formation under Howe, but the Toon coach tried a 3-4-2-1 here – and they were all at sea early on, being torn to pieces at will by the rampant Brummies.
But it was 2-1 after 28 minutes, thanks to Anderson, who made up for his early roar by holding on to Jacob Murphy’s passing ball, deflecting Ezri Konsa’s desperate jump and coolly chipping past Emi Martinez.
And Newcastle equalized just before half-time through Alexander Isak, but it was again thanks to that man Anderson’s brilliant work.
First, he robbed Boubacar Kamara in midfield before driving past Matty Cash into the penalty area.
Anderson, who started two Prem games last year after being loaned to Bristol Rovers the previous season, threw Konsa again while Maritinez saved his shot before Isak put the ball in goal.
Buendia’s throw-in leveled the scores 3-2 just after the break before substitute Callum Wilson equalized with a simple finish into an empty net.
Villa new signing Moussa Diaby was at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia but was not included in the squad, along with newcomers Youri Tielemans and Pau Torres, who came on as substitutes.