Kylian Mbappe claims Newcastle United have nothing - he couldn't be further from the truth

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A defining final group stage fixture lies ahead as Newcastle feel the sting of an abysmal VAR decision.

Kylian Mbappe may have suggested Newcastle United have 'nothing' - but in reality the Magpies gave everything to move to the brink of a historic Champions League win on Tuesday night.

For 96 minutes, Eddie Howe's men - shorn of over £200m-worth of players through injury and suspension - battled, harried and harassed Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain. They were disciplined, they were dogged and they were defiant, even when they were faced with wave after wave of attacking in the final 20 minutes.

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Mbappe, rated by many at the best player in the world at present, fed on crumbs as a Newcastle defence marshalled by Jamaal Lascelles, the man who captained the Magpies to the Championship title six years ago, showed the sort of organisation required to succeed at the highest level of the game.

Nick Pope was in top form once again, Tino Livramento gave further notice of his undoubted ability and 17-year-old academy graduate Lewis Miley's football education received another boost when many of his friends were preparing for another day in sixth form.

Miguel Almiron and Anthony Gordon were typically industrious, Joelinton was a mountain and Bruno Guimaraes, Fabian Schar and Kieran Trippier all looked every inch the leaders required in such a volatile environment.

Alexander Isak, still finding his way back to full fitness, worked hard throughout until his heavy legs could give little more. His goal had offered Newcastle a foundation to build upon, he could and perhaps should have solidified those foundations with further goals when presented with further chances.

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If there was to be a criticism of the Magpies, and it feels harsh given the limited options available to Howe, it would be that their understandably lethargic end to the contest invited pressure and their inability to retain possession in PSG's half only intensified the home side's belief that a point was their for the taking.

Yet even in the wake of that admittedly harsh criticism, the manner of Mbappe's late penalty should leave a sour taste in the mouth and one almost as bitter as the World Cup winner's highly disrespectful comments towards the Newcastle players.

The 'handball' decision against Tino Livramento has brought claim and counter-claim from many onlookers, with the vast majority suggesting the Magpies full-back was extremely unfortunate after a cross struck his arm after rebounding off his chest.

Some have claimed UEFA laws mean the punishment of a penalty was correct, some have hit out at the VAR process (again!). European football's governing body seem to have unwittingly thrown some weight behind the latter's argument by their decision to remove VAR official Tomàs Kwiatkowski from duty in Wednesday night's tie between Real Sociedad and RB Salzburg.

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In the wake of severe pressure from the home players, on-field referee Szymon Marciniak initially waved away protests before he was directed towards the pitchside monitor. Even then, with all of the evidence suggesting his initial decision was correct, he harshly overturned the call and handing Mbappe a chance to earn a point for his side and one that he did not pass up.

It felt cruel on Newcastle, but mostly it felt weak from an official that oversaw last winter's World Cup Final and Manchester City's Champions League Final win against Inter Milan. In the face of such pressure from the PSG players and the home support, he seemed to opt for an easy route, rather than showing the strength to stay true to his first instinct.

The outcome ultimately cost the Magpies what would have been one of the most impressive results in their history and one that would have sent them into a defining home fixture against AC Milan in the driving seat for a place in the knockout stages.

Progression is not yet out of reach but it is out of their hands. All Newcastle can do is do their jobs when the Serie A giants visit St James Park and hope Borussia Dortmund are able to take something from their home game with PSG. A consolation prize could still be secured should Howe's men claim third place in a group where many gave them little hope and extend their European season into the new year with a spot in the Europa League.

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The meeting with Milan nicely bookends a first Champions League group stage campaign and provides an opportunity to show that lessons have been learnt throughout the previous fixtures against their high-calibre opponents in what many have named the group of death. It is a chance to defy the odds one more time, to give further proof that Howe and his players can belie their inexperience at the top level and compete with the best Europe has to offer.

Mbappe may well have somewhat callously suggested Newcastle have 'nothing' - but the Magpies head into matchday six still with everything to play for.

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