Eddie Howe has described the way that Newcastle United battled their way to a 1-0 win over Everton on Wednesday night as a “real team performance”.
Both teams went into the fixture at St James’ Park with two of the best defensive records in the Premier League, the Magpies sitting at the top of those particular rankings.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it came as little surprise that one goal decided the game with Miguel Almiron producing yet another piece of quality to continue his best season in a Newcastle shirt.
Despite the close nature of the scoreline, Newcastle were deserved victors in front of their own supporters as their opponents failed to pose a sustained threat in attack.
Nevertheless, Howe was quick to praise the resolve of his team from a defensive standpoint, taking pride from how they saw out the contest with minimal fuss.
Speaking to BBC Sport, the Englishman said: “The performance was very good, in a different way to how we have been at times this season. It wasn’t free-flowing football, it was a very competitive game, a lot of fight in midfield, very physical. I am delighted with character shown and how we defended as a team.
“For the whole team that should give them enormous pleasure [another clean sheet], because that was a real team performance today. We defended our goal and goalkeeper very well. Everton are a strong team. They put a lot of balls into our box, a lot of direct play, and we had to deal with that.”
With Newcastle now sitting within two points of fourth-placed Chelsea, Howe was naturally quizzed on expectations in the North-East, but he would not be drawn on anything changing in the short term.
Howe added: “My expectation is that we continue to give our all in every game. The margins between success and failure are very small. If we keep giving what we are I think we will have a successful season.”
Newcastle are next in action when they make the trip to London to square off against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday afternoon.
Howe’s side will move to within two points of the current third-placed team if they can prevail from that encounter with three points.