Isak fires Newcastle within sight of Premier League top 4

Alexander Isak said Newcastle believe they will secure a place in next season’s Champions League after the Swede beat Nottingham Forest 2-1 on Friday with two goals including an injury-time penalty.

The win lifts the Magpies to a point ahead of fourth-placed Tottenham and with a game in hand to Spurs.

“We think and we know it’s in our own hands and we have a good chance,” Isak said after Newcastle went into the international break with two wins.

“It’s important that we went into this break feeling good, with two wins from two games.”

The defeat was Forest’s first home defeat in the league since September and still leaves Steve Cooper’s men two points above the relegation zone.

“It’s always the worst way to lose in the last few minutes after fighting in the game,” Cooper said. “We made some bad football decisions in the run-up to the goals and we can only blame ourselves for that.”

Newcastle ended a nearly two-month wait for a Premier League win with a win over Wolves last weekend and flew off the blocks at the City Ground.

But it was the visitors who came closest to their early dominance when Renan Lodi turned an Isak cross into his own crossbar.

Instead it was Forest who went completely against the flow of play in front thanks to a roar from Sven Botman.

The Dutch centre-back has been a key factor in Newcastle’s success this season but his attempted pass back to goalkeeper Nick Pope was intercepted by Emmanuel Dennis, who scored just his second Forest goal with a stunning chip finish.

The bar came to the home side’s rescue again when Sean Longstaff’s shot deflected off the edge of the box bounced off the woodwork.

Newcastle were finally rewarded in first-half injury time when the club’s record signing, Isak, acrobatically hit Joe Willock’s cross off the post.

The pattern of play continued after the break as the Magpies laid siege to the Forest’s gate.

Former Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Keylor Navas had to do his best to cover powerful shots from Elliot Anderson and Bruno Guimaraes.

Anderson then thought he had scored his first senior goal when he headed Isak’s cross from the back post.

However, the goal was controversially disallowed after a VAR check for offside against Longstaff under construction, despite the ball being broken from a Forest player to midfielder.

Just when it looked like Forest was struggling for a valuable point in their fight to hit the drop, Moussa Niakhate unnecessarily raised his hand to block Isak’s tame header.

The Sweden international’s debut season in England was marred by injury but he showed his class by putting his head past Navas and sparking wild cheers from the fans.

“It’s a tremendous win and I thought we deserved it,” said Howe.

“Coming back is always a great way to win and the character that’s shown in the group is very enjoyable.”


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