Newcastle win to move closer to Champions League


Miguel Almiron of Newcastle United is challenged by Kaoru Mitoma of Brighton & Hove Albion during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Brighton & Hove Albion at St. James Park on May 18, 2023 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe says he will talk about the Champions League “for fun” if his side secure qualification – but not before.

Howe’s team moved one win away from qualifying for Europe’s leading club competition with a deserved Premier League victory against Brighton and Hove Albion.

“The Champions League is so close, but so far away as well. We will enjoy tonight but we are focused on our next match,” said Howe, who has been reluctant to discuss his side’s top-four chances.

“We were just pleased with the performance, to beat a side of their quality. We are not looking too far ahead.

“When it’s done, I’ll talk about it for fun if you want.”

Newcastle took the lead when Brighton forward Deniz Undav flicked Kieran Trippier’s corner into his own net, before the Magpies skipper picked out Dan Burn from a free-kick to head in the second.

Miguel Almiron was denied a third for Newcastle at the start of the second half by Brighton keeper Jason Steele’s smart stop and, just 45 seconds later, Undav slotted in at the right end to give the visitors hope.

Suddenly, after being in complete control for 50 minutes, Newcastle had to dig in.

But the home team managed the game professionally and eased any lingering tension through Callum Wilson’s composed late finish.

The mood turned even more celebratory when Bruno Guimaraes emphatically converted Wilson’s pass in injury time.

The win puts Newcastle on the cusp of a return to the Champions League for the first time since they were knocked out at the qualifying stage in 2003-04.

Eddie Howe’s side, who consolidated third position in the table, know one win in their final two games will secure a top-four finish.

The Magpies are three points clear of fourth-placed Manchester United, who have played a game fewer, and four ahead of fifth-placed Liverpool, who also have two games left.

Brighton remain sixth and qualifying for the Europa League – which would be their first taste of European competition – remains in their own hands with three matches left.

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