Eddie Howe reacts to ‘controversial’ moment in Newcastle United’s friendly win in Saudi Arabia

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Ciaran Clark was shown a red card for Newcastle United during their friendly victory over Al-Ittihad in Saudi Arabia.

Eddie Howe believes there was “no need” to send off Ciaran Clark during Newcastle United’s 2-1 friendly victory over Al-Ittihad.

The Magpies rounded off their mid-season trip to Saudi Arabia with a 70-minute game against the Saudi Pro League leaders at the 27,000-capacity Prince Abdullah Al Faisal Stadium.

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Allan Saint-Maximin handed United the lead on nine minutes with a fine solo strike, though Abderazak Hamdallah soon levelled for the hosts.

Then came the controversial moment after the break when Clark clashed with goalscorer Hamdallah in the middle of the park.

Following an altercation between the pair, the referee issued a red card to both players, a decision that took Howe by surprise given it was only a training match.

That said, if it was a competitive affair, then Howe admits he could have no complaints.

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‘No need for the red card’

Howe said: “Both sides were very keen to play the game in the right spirit. I thought there was a couple of difficult moments for the referee.

“There was no need for the red card, I thought he could have dealt with it in a different way but by the book, it was probably the right decision.”

Newcastle went on to find a winner just before the hour-mark, with Ryan Fraser powering an effort into the top corner.

Howe’s side flew back to the United Kingdom today and will continue their preparations for the Premier League fixture with Everton next week.

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‘Brilliant experience for everyone’

“We scored two outstanding goals,” Howe told NUFCTV. “Allan’s was very special, trademark individual brilliance from a situation where we won the ball high up the pitch but a fantastic bit of individual play.

“He also had another good run which was well worth seeing again and we were unlucky not to score from that and I thought he had a really good half.

“Ryan’s goal was great to see, I thought it was a really good team move. We kept the ball for a long period of time and Ryan finished it off really well.

“We’ve still got a lot to work on and our performance levels have still got to improve and that was evident today but I was pleased with the player’s response especially in the second half.

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“Providing we’ve come through the game with no injuries, I think the trip has been a brilliant experience for everyone. We’ve all come closer together.

“We needed the game (on Friday) you could see a bit of rustiness but we’ve had some good training and I think there was a little bit of fatigue going into the game but we’re all trying to get into the best possible shape for Everton.”

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