Alexander Isak hit a clinical double to give Newcastle United a 2-1 victory at Nottingham Forest and believes the Magpies can soar after the international break.
The Swedish striker tucked away a late penalty to earn the win at the City Ground, moving Newcastle to 47 points from 26 games.
They sit one point behind fourth-placed Tottenham with a game in hand and are five points better off than Liverpool.
Several of their players will disperse to represent their countries over the next fortnight, before the battle for Premier League places resumes.
Emmanuel Dennis put Forest ahead in Friday’s contest with a high-quality chip in the 26th minute, but Newcastle drew level moments before half-time as Isak volleyed in Joe Willock’s cross.
Newcastle’s Elliot Anderson had a goal disallowed midway through the second half, with team-mate Sean Longstaff ruled to have been offside in the build-up.
It looked set to finish level, but a rash handball from Moussa Niakhate gave Newcastle a stoppage-time penalty and Isak made no mistake with a confident strike from the spot.
Asked about the scrap for Champions League places, Isak said on Sky Sports: “We feel confident. We spoke about how it’s very important to go into this break with a good feeling.
“Hopefully this will give us energy for when we come back.”
He felt Newcastle “were not on it” in the first half and spoke in the dressing room about the need to step up their level.
“We came out in the second half and changed our game and we played really well and we got rewarded as well,” Isak added.
90 – @NUFC have won a Premier League away match with a 90th minute goal for the first time since December 2015 against Tottenham Hotspur, when Ayoze Pérez scored the winner at White Hart Lane. Turnaround. pic.twitter.com/nbdwOAuDHq
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 17, 2023
Isak celebrated with the thousands of Newcastle fans who made the trip and said: “Those late winners are the best goals to score.”
It was Newcastle’s first league win of the season after conceding the opening goal in a game, although at one point head coach Eddie Howe was concerned it might be “one of those nights”.
When it was explained to Howe that the comeback feat was a first for his team in the competition this term, he said: “I think that’s in part because we’ve been so good this season that we’ve led in a lot of games, but it’s nice to be able to have that in your game.”
Forest, in a relegation battle, have now lost 15 points from winning positions in the Premier League this season, with only Bournemouth (17) and Leicester City (19) having lost more.
Howe was baffled by the decision to deny 20-year-old midfielder Anderson what would have been his first senior goal for Newcastle.
“I couldn’t believe it at the time,” Howe said. “I’d need to be sat down and explained the rules on that one. I’m disappointed for Elliot because it would have been a massive moment in his career.”