Nottingham: Alexander Isaac’s two-goal display at Nottingham Forest has put Newcastle United back into the Premier League mix – but Eddie Howe admits he still believes there is more to come from the Sweden international.
Isaacs was man of the match for Newcastle at City as he added the fifth and sixth goals to his Newcastle tally. Emmanuel Dennis gave the hosts an undeserved lead in return for the lead in play.
And while Isaacs was the star of the show in the Midlands – helping his team to a close point against fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur – Howe still believes we haven’t yet seen the final article.
“It was a great performance from him (Isaac),” Howe said.
“I thought he was a constant handful at Nottingham Forest. His pace and dribbling were obvious. I was really happy with the two goals, and he is building well to make a huge impact for us.
“I think confidence is key for any attacking player. The penalty was cold. It was a big moment for us, in our season, and it’s not easy to do that, especially with the delays. But he put it away really well. The first goal was a pretty unorthodox finish.” What, but it was great to see a goal fall into the net and fall into the net this time.”
Despite rumors of an injury crisis circulating on social media before the match, top scorer Miguel Almiron was the only one missing from the tour squad. It looks like Paraguay will miss the next six weeks with a muscle problem.
The team itself remained the same, and the continuity of selection was also reflected in performance, with the Magpies picking up against Forest where they left off against Wolves.
Some quality in the third is what Newcastle have been missing, but it didn’t take much effort to open Forest up, not once but twice early on.
Kieran Trippier sent Jacob Murphy wide off the right and his volley from the right was perfect for Joe Willock’s late arrival. However, his finish with his left was tricky and didn’t upset Keylor Navas’ seven-yard goal.
Soon after a clever short free kick from Trippier unleashed Isaac, but his deflected shot bounced off the crossbar just as the Magpies’ summer target, Renan Lodi, appeared to have converted it.
With Newcastle at the top and creating whatever they please, they can’t let themselves down at the other end, can they? Well, that’s exactly what Sven Putmann did as his attempt at running back turned into the foul reel of the season. Under little or no pressure from Andre Ayew, the Netherlands international tried to find Nick Pope but instead fed Dennis, who sank on Pope and covered Trippier to turn the tables in this game.
Despite this blow, the visitors continued with their football and hit the bar again on 35 minutes with Sean Longstaff hitting this time from distance.
They got a deserved equalizer straight into the first half as Isaac produced a fine finish, heading Willock’s cross at the post.
While Forest had their moment at the 45th second, it was the Magpies who stayed ahead and looked more poised and likely to go and claim the three points.
Great scorer Murphy wrong-footed Dennis down the right and found substitute Elliott Anderson at the back post, whose shot was saved. This wasn’t the Scotland international’s only contribution to youth – one of which produced the most controversial advocacy of what was an accident-ridden half of football.
Just after the hour mark, Anderson nodded the float ball home at center back, leading to scenes of jubilation as young Gordy hopped to the far end in the city grounds to celebrate with his countrymen.
However, the goal was eventually ruled out, breaking his heart and his dreams in the process, thanks to Longstaff’s build-up offside touch. It was a strange call by referee Paul Tierney, especially when Longstaff only played the ball when it was hit by a Forest player.
Murphy had a chance to win, as did Bruno Guimarães before Brennan Johnson brought out the best of Bob at the other end in a rare attack in the woods.
Serge Aurier erased one effort from hero Isaac off the line before the game-changing call at the death. A ball from the left was passed by Isaac and caught by Musa Nyakati. Tierney made no mistake this time and pointed straight at the spot.
As cool as you want, the Swede looked Navas in the eye and coaxed him into a move from the South American keeper, before driving in the opposite direction to send thousands of jubilant Jordans behind the goal.
“A VAR goal is a good place to start, really. I’m not sure what happened there, I have no idea, so I’ll have to sit down and see what happened and what the thought process is,” Howe said of Anderson’s disallowed goal.
“I was surprised to see the referee go to the screen and make that decision and that call. It was like that, and I think the most important thing is that the players responded really well. Especially Elliott. It was easy for him to really curse that moment, because it was his first goal for Newcastle.” .
“Stack-to-back wins are very important in this department. The quality of the teams, the strength of the opposition, makes it difficult to do that. Today, we hit a tough away turf. I thought the Nottingham Forest fans were really good in that first half and we lost control for ten or fifteen minutes. They scored in that period, but it was a really good response in the second half from the team. It was a big moment in our season, we managed to dig deep and find the winner.”