Newcastle United boss Eddie Howe says his side’s performance against Manchester United on Saturday was “very, very good”.
Four days after suffering late heartache in a 1-1 Champions League draw with Paris St Germain, having dispatched Premier League rivals Chelsea 4-1 before heading for France, the Magpies secured a 1-0 league victory over the men from Old Trafford at St James’ Park.
Asked if that represented the perfect ending to a testing week, head coach Howe said: “Yes it is. I think that’s one of our best performances of the season, for me.
“I thought we were very, very good on and off the ball and when you consider the week we’ve had and the difficult games we’ve had, the end of the game in Paris, what a response from the group of players.”
Anthony Gordon’s 55th-minute strike from Kieran Trippier’s cross ultimately secured the points on a night when Newcastle largely dominated without reward until his intervention.
Having been robbed of victory by a contentious stoppage-time penalty in Paris, they were spared further pain when Harry Maguire inadvertently turned Antony’s shot past substitute goalkeeper Martin Dubravka, but from an offside position.
Gordon has now scored in each of his last four league games on Tyneside and taken his tally for the season to six goals to reap the rewards of his hard work on the training pitch.
Howe said: “He himself has really worked on that.
“I’m really pleased because I thought he played really well at the start of the season, but every attacker needs to score, needs to have that feeling and that confidence that that brings.
“It elevates your game, not just the goals, but he’s getting assists as well. He’s involved in match-winning moments.
“I thought he played really well again today. It was a really good cross from Kieran, a good team move and a good finish.”
The only disappointment for Howe was that goalkeeper Nick Pope, who has played such a key role in the club’s recent success, suffered a dislocated shoulder late in the game and may now need surgery.
Asked how long he might be sidelined, the 46-year-old said: “It’s too early to say. He was in pain when the shoulder was out of its joint. It’s been put back in now and he feels much more comfortable.
“We’ll seek specialist opinion, but it doesn’t look good.”
It proved a difficult night for the visitors, who have now lost to the Magpies in their last three encounters and rarely looked like avoiding that fate until a late flurry.
Manager Erik ten Hag said: “Today we have to say ‘credit to Newcastle’. After the start, where we could have scored with (Alejandro) Garnacho, they were better than us, they were more proactive.
“We had to go back, we had to defend and we did that. We allowed them one goal, but at the end, we fought back, we had two good opportunities, but unluckily we could not take a point from here.”
England international Marcus Rashford in particular cut a frustrated figure and was replaced by Rasmus Hojlund with 29 minutes remaining.
Asked about Rashford’s form, Ten Hag said: “He works hard and he is investing a lot. He will get back, he will recover and he’s got all our support.”