NEWCASTLE UNITED rounded off their pre-season programme with a 2-1 win over La Liga side Athletic Bilbao at St James’ Park.

Having edged out Atalanta on Friday evening, the Magpies made it two wins in two days as they completed their preparations for next weekend’s opening Premier League game against Nottingham Forest.

Callum Wilson opened the scoring for Eddie Howe’s side in the fourth minute, with Allan Saint-Maximin adding a second goal at the start of the second half.

Bilbao rallied in the closing stages, and after Raul Garcia clawed a goal back for the Spaniards, Newcastle were indebted to Martin Dubravka, who made two excellent late saves to ensure the Magpies finished on top.

As expected, Howe replaced all 11 of the players that started last night’s 1-0 win over Atalanta, with his two team selections on successive days underlining the depth of the current squad.

Wilson replaced Chris Wood as the central striker, and Newcastle’s number nine could not have wished for a better start.

Just four minutes had gone when Matt Ritchie threaded a through ball into his path, and after holding off a Bilbao defender as he barged his way into the box, Wilson slotted an assured finish past Ander Iruarrizaga’s left hand.

Newcastle posed an attacking threat all afternoon, with Wilson leading the line effectively, ably assisted by Joe Willock, Joelinton and Bruno Guimaraes.

Guimaraes was especially effective as he pulled the strings at the heart of midfield, and the Brazilian almost doubled Newcastle’s lead in the eighth minute as he fired in a long-range shot that Iruarrizaga got down to save.

Willock fired over midway through the first half after a slick one-two with Guimaraes, but while the Magpies were the dominant side for most of the opening period, they did not have things all their own way.

Bilbao carried a threat on the counter-attack, and while Dubravka made a decent low save from Oscar de Marcos, the Newcastle goalkeeper should have been beaten on the stroke of half-time.

Inaki Williams outpaced Emil Krafth as he raced one-on-one with the Newcastle full-back from the halfway line, but after turning neatly in the box, the Spanish striker fired wastefully into the side-netting.

That was a let-off for the Magpies, and they made the most of it as they doubled their lead nine minutes into the second half.

Joelinton sent Saint-Maximin scampering away down the left-hand side, and after breaking into the penalty area, the Frenchman slotted a composed finish across Iruarrizaga and into the bottom corner.

That should really have been the signal for Newcastle to turn the screw, but instead, Bilbao enjoyed their best spell of the game and pulled a goal back in the 65th minute.

An incisive passing move ended with a cross from the right, and substitute Raul Garcia outjumped Emil Krafth to plant a powerful header past Martin Dubravka.

Bilbao almost equalised moments later, but after drifting across the face of the 18-yard box, Alejandro Berenguer fired in a strike that whistled just wide of the upright.

The visitors then went close again, with Inaki Williams stabbing a first-time strike the wrong side of the post after Oier Zarraga slid a low ball into the middle, and Newcastle were indebted to Dubravka as Bilbao’s late rally continued with 12 minutes left.

The Slovakian, who looks like losing his place in Howe’s preferred XI to Nick Pope, parried Oihan Sancet’s shot, and displayed smart reflexes to claw the ball away from the goalmouth as it looked to be spinning in.

Dubravka was at it again moments later, keeping out Daniel Garcia’s first-time effort, and while Bilbao continued to press in the dying seconds, Newcastle closed out their final pre-season victory.

Newcastle (4-3-3): Dubravka; Krafth, Lascelles, Botman, Dummett (Bondswell 70); Guimaraes (de Bolle 89), Willock, Joelinton; Ritchie, Wilson (Munoz 90), Saint-Maximin (M Longstaff 89).

Subs (not used): Gillespie (gk), Stephenson, Turner-Cooke, Murphy, Miley.

Athletic Bilbao (4-3-3): Iruarrizaga; de Marcos, Alvarez, Martinez (Vivian 85), Balenziaga (Martinez 60); Vencedor (Zarraga 60), Vesga (Garcia 76), Muniain (Sancet 53); N Williams (Garcia 60), I Williams, Berengeur (Morcillo 76).

Subs (not used): Villalibre, Padilla.