‘Anti-climax’ - National media deliver Newcastle United verdict in Man United and Chelsea race

Sean Longstaff celebrates scoring during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Brighton & Hove Albion at St. James Park.
Sean Longstaff celebrates scoring during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Brighton & Hove Albion at St. James Park. -Credit:George Wood/Getty Images

Newcastle United face a big final two games in their hopes to compete in European football again next season, following a frustrating 1-1 draw with Brighton in what was the final home match of the season.

Newcastle found themselves behind in the first half thanks to Joel Veltman’s goal in the 18th minute, but the Magpies responded through Sean Longstaff deep into first half stoppage time. That’s how the score would stay, despite Newcastle pushing for a winner in the second half.

The result leaves Newcastle in sixth place in the Premier League table. Chelsea’s 3-2 win over Nottingham Forest just a few hours later moves them level on points with Eddie Howe’s side, although Newcastle do have a much better goal difference than their rivals.

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Eyes now turn to Manchester United’s clash against Arsenal at Old Trafford. A win for Erik ten Hag’s side would move them level on points with both Newcastle and Chelsea, though again the Magpies would have the goal difference advantage.

Failing to win against Brighton now places more emphasis on the midweek encounter against Man United at Old Trafford. Following that trip, Howe’s men are on the road again as they take on Brentford at the GTech Community Stadium in the final game of the season next weekend.

It sets up what could be a tense last couple of games. Ahead of those, here is what the national media in attendance at St James’ Park made of the result against Brighton and what that means in the race for Europe.

‘Work to do’

Newcastle United will travel to Manchester United on Wednesday night needing only their second league victory at Old Trafford in 51 years to be sure of European qualification,” wrote Luke Edwards of the Telegraph.

“With the club’s Saudi Arabian chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan making a rare appearance at St James’ Park, after he travelled to England for a full board meeting on Thursday, Newcastle have left themselves work to do after Brighton did enough to secure a well-earned draw.

“It leaves the door open for both Chelsea and Manchester United to move ahead of Newcastle with two games left to play and although there were hugs on the pitch and loud chanting of manager Eddie Howe’s name, this felt like a bit of an anti-climax.

“It means Newcastle will have to finish the job on the road, where they have been inconsistent and occasionally downright bad this season. Their last league victory at Old Trafford came under Alan Pardew back in 2013, which ended a wait for a win that had lasted since 1972.”

‘In the balance’

“As a reassuringly strong sun shone on Tyneside and the air turned sufficiently balmy to consign winter coats to the back of the wardrobe at last, memories of Newcastle’s trip to Milan last September resurfaced.,” wrote Louise Taylor of the Guardian.

“Home fans had probably not felt as warm watching a match since that Champions League draw at San Siro but Brighton’s often impressively fancy footwork left their hopes of enjoying more European adventures next season very much in the balance.

“Eddie Howe has 15 separate tactics boards in his training ground office but even a coach as meticulously assiduous as Newcastle’s manager could not quite cater for his apparently rather fatigued players’ frequent outmanoeuvring at the feet of the gifted Julio Enciso and the 20-year-old Paraguay playmaker’s impressively streetwise friends.”

‘All about wins’

“The away dug-out at St James’ Park bore the brunt of Roberto De Zerbi’s frustration but Eddie Howe had more reason to rue an outcome that did little for Newcastle’s hopes of clinching a return to Europe,” wrote Jason Mellor of the Daily Mail.

“The Italian smashed his fist into the perspex covering as his anger boiled over at Brighton’s sluggish start, but in mitigation they recovered sufficiently to head south with a deserved point, in the process leaving an equally visible dent in the hosts’ bid for a top-six finish.

“Newcastle remain unbeaten at home since January, but at a stage of the season where it is all about wins, a share of the spoils represents scant reward.”

He later added: “Neither side did enough to merit victory. A point keeps Brighton in the hunt for a top-10 finish and it will not be lost on Newcastle that De Zerbi’s men can do them a big favour on Wednesday with victory over seventh-place Chelsea, on the same night Howe’s side visit Manchester United.”

‘Must now watch’

"After fifth-placed Tottenham moved six points clear with victory over Burnley, Newcastle must now watch as Chelsea and Manchester United aim to move level on points with them when they play later this weekend,” BBC Sport’s Harry Poole wrote at the full-time whistle.

“Newcastle matched the energy of the home support as they sought to end the season on a high note at St James' Park, but they were ultimately left frustrated and must now hope this is not a result which proves costly at the end of the campaign.

“For all the hosts' intent and probing, Jacob Murphy’s speculative shot from distance represented their only attempt on target inside the opening 30 minutes.

“The absence of Callum Wilson from the matchday squad, after the striker's two goals in three appearances since returning from injury, was felt as the hosts could not build on Longstaff’s leveller which lifted the crowd before the break”.