Eddie Howe praised Newcastle’s “character” and “fight” after they came from a goal down to beat Brentford 2-1.
The Magpies were trailing at half-time in their third match in six days to Ivan Toney’s penalty.
But they were a different side after the break with Joelinton equalising via a deflection off Bees goalkeeper David Raya and Alexander Isak hitting the winner from the edge of the area to keep their bid to reach the Champions League on track.
“It was very much a game of two halves. In the first half Brentford made it difficult, we struggled to get any rhythm,” said Toon boss Howe.
“I was pleased to get in at half-time, regroup and try to find a way back into the game.
“I wasn’t angry, I was focused on what we could do to try to get back in this game. I was actually very calm.
“The challenge was can we come back, have we got the strength of character, the energy, the fight, to deliver a big 45 minutes?
“Three games in six days and this game was probably the wrong one to have at the end of it as well. It was an unusual test. They went very deep this week, so full credit to them.”
“No problem, Anthony’s a passionate boy,” added Howe. “He was holding his ankle and we wanted to get Matt Ritchie on. He has to control his emotions but no problems.”
The match featured a collector’s item in the shape of a penalty miss by Toney.
The striker had already had a goal ruled out for offside by VAR when he stepped up to the spot after Kevin Schade was wiped out by Sven Botman, a challenge even Howe admitted was probably worth two penalties.
But after 24 successful spot-kicks stretching back to a miss for Peterborough in 2018, Toney saw his weak effort saved by Nick Pope.
“Nick will have done his preparation and I’m sure he knows Ivan’s technique. It was a top-class save,” said Howe.
However, the 27-year-old is nothing if not confident about his ability from the spot, and normal service was resumed in first-half stoppage time after Isak caught Rico Henry.
This time Toney dispatched it, to Pope’s left again but high enough to beat his dive.
“It’s the law of statistics that one day he will miss one,” sighed Bees boss Thomas Frank.
“To be fair to him, give the keeper a bit of credit, and I think the ball moved just before he took it. It took a lot of mental strength the second time to put it in the net.”
“It was a top performance throughout the game,” added Frank. “We went more than toe to toe with Newcastle, who everyone has rightfully praised this season. We could have been up 3-0.
“Two moments in the second half decided the game. Good play from Joelinton, although he got lucky with the goal, and a moment of quality from a £63million striker.”