Newcastle boss Eddie Howe admitted he was not a happy man when he saw Fabian Schar lining up his “incredible” deadlock-breaking strike against Nottingham Forest.
The Switzerland international defender took aim from distance to end the Magpies’ frustration with a 25-yard piledriver which set his side on their way to a 2-0 win over promoted Forest on their return to the Premier League.
Howe said: “It was an incredible strike from a player that does the unconventional, really. A centre-back shooting from that range – I probably wouldn’t have reached if that was me playing.
“But he’s capable of doing things like that, special moments. I was questioning his decision as he lined up to hit it, but I was delighted to see it hit the net.
“We sort of needed a goal like that to break the deadlock because we had created a number of chances and hadn’t taken them, and it took a long-range goal to get us going.”
Newcastle had to remain patient despite dominating from the first whistle until the last, and it took something special for them to get their noses in front.
Forest goalkeeper Dean Henderson, making his competitive debut for the club after sealing a loan move from Manchester United, denied Joe Willock and Allan Saint-Maximin in quick succession, but there was nothing he could do to keep out Schar’s 58th-minute missile.
He was equally helpless 12 minutes from time when Callum Wilson cleverly flicked Joelinton’s cross past him to seal a win which might have been even more comfortable.
Howe said: “It was a brilliant performance from us, I thought, today. From start to finish, I was very very pleased.
“But at half-time, that game was still very much in the balance. Despite our dominance, we hadn’t scored. Nottingham Forest had defended well and we hadn’t been clinical enough in certain moments, so the main aspect of my team-talk was to make sure we didn’t lose our discipline and search for that goal in a disjointed way.
“Thankfully we didn’t.”
The opening-day win – Newcastle did not manage a league victory until December last season – came just 24 hours after head coach Howe had committed his future to the club by signing a new long-term contract.
He said: “I didn’t hesitate about signing it. I’m loving every moment of being Newcastle manager and I’m going to give it my all to try to make it a success.”
For opposite number Steve Cooper, there were mixed feelings as his side turned in a dogged performance on their return to the top flight after a 23-year absence, but one which lacked any real threat.
Cooper said: “There’s been a lot of talking to the players and amongst themselves about Premier League football. Listen, we’re disappointed we’ve lost a football match today, but at least we’ve felt the difference of what a Premier League game is – and there is a big difference, for sure.
“We have to reflect on that quickly and get used to it.”