The damage was done early as Newcastle United beat Sydney FC 4-0 in their pre-season game in Dunedin, New Zealand. A first-half flurry of three goals in 14 minutes gave Newcastle a lead that the Australian side would never look to pull in, allowing them to cruise through the second half.
The first came after 18 minutes, the result of the pressure Newcastle applied, holding the ball for long periods and forcing Sydney to live off of scraps. Sydney held them out well initially, but a horrid miss-kick from goalkeeper Ivan Necevski presented Newcastle with a simple two-on-one opportunity that they did not mess up.
Seven minutes later, they were in again, this time after a cross from Yoan Gouffran found the boot of new signing Emmanuel Riviere. The floodgates were beginning to open, and Sydney were looking extremely exposed. Newcastle began to look threatening every time they got the ball, and a big score looked to be in the cards.
It came as little surprise then, when Newcastle notched up their third goal, a long-range shot from Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa after a lovely piece of footwork saw him beat his man one-on-one. The shot deflected off Sydney defender Sasa Ognenovski and into the goal to give Newcastle a 3-0 lead.
To their credit, Sydney fought back in the second half. They began to gain more control of the ball and found themselves more organized at the back, although Newcastle had begun to make a handful of substitutions by this stage.
Despite this, Sydney still could not get a decent shot off. The Newcastle defence was rock-solid, seemingly effortlessly shutting down any attack Sydney tried to mount. They did not relinquish, and Sydney's best-looking chance came in a late long-range effort that was struck right of the goal.
In the closing stages, Newcastle finally got their game going again and made the score 4-0, running out as convincing winners.
It was a rare showing of high-quality football for the Dunedin crowd, who watched in awe of the speed, skill and precision of these overseas masters. Not for many years, if ever, has such a team come to the rugby-crazed south of New Zealand. Indeed on most nights, hosting Sydney FC would be a good event for the football community of the city and would be a step above anything else regularly hosted there.
There was a sadness hanging over the ground amongst the excitement however. This came in the memory of Newcastle fans Liam Sweeney and John Alder. Both were en route to see their team play the game when they were killed on the ill-fated Flight MH17. A moment's silence was held before the game, while wreaths were laid in the seats that they would have occupied had they made it to the ground.
Newcastle delivered a display both men could be proud of, walking away victors and showing those present just what a step up the Premier League is from football in their part of the world.