Alexander Isak is targeting Champions League qualification to help ease the pain of Newcastle’s Carabao Cup final defeat.
The 23-year-old Sweden international played his part in Sunday’s 2-0 Premier League victory over Manchester United at St James’ Park, which came five weeks after the Magpies had lost by the same scoreline to the same opposition at Wembley as they looked to end their 68-year domestic trophy drought.
Asked if the win, which catapulted Eddie’s Howe’s men above the Red Devils and into third place, had provided some revenge for that disappointment, Isak said: “No, I wouldn’t say that. They still got the cup. We wanted the cup and we didn’t get it.
“But this win was very important because Manchester United are a direct rival for us in the table, so it’s nicer to get the three points for ourselves.
“It was a massive, massive win, a big confidence boost for us and massive also for the table for the Champions League hunt.”
Where the Magpies had proved toothless in attack and porous at the back in the final, they turned in a display of vigour, endeavour and potency to overwhelm a United side softened and weakened by the absence of the suspended Casemiro and injured Christian Eriksen.
Goalkeeper David De Gea denied Isak and Joe Willock, who passed up two glorious chances, with a fine double save and Sean Longstaff sent a long-range shot screaming just past the upright in a promising, but ultimately fruitless first half.
Isak said: “That’s football sometimes. We all felt that we could have gone in at half-time with a 2-0 lead or even more.
“But we said at half-time as long as we create chances, eventually the ball will go in if we stay positive and keep going.”
Willock finally opened the scoring from point-blank range after Allan Saint-Maximin had headed Bruno Guimaraes’ cross back across goal and after De Gea had somehow turned Joelinton’s header onto the underside of the crossbar, fellow substitute Callum Wilson made sure two minutes from time.
The win – Newcastle’s third on the trot – eased them to 50 points, one more than they achieved in the whole of last season, and above United on goal difference ahead of Wednesday night’s trip to West Ham.
Asked what message it sent to the rest of the field in the race for the top four, Isak said: “We’ve shown during the whole season what we’re capable of, so nothing special. But it was a massive step in the right direction for our goal.
“Hopefully, we can use this win as a boost. We won’t talk too much about it. We will just take one game at time and get the results we need.”