Aleksandar Mitrovic is targeting victory at Manchester City to confirm Newcastle’s emergence from their early-season doldrums after drawing with Chelsea.
The Magpies brought an end to a dismal four-game losing streak by battling to within four minutes of victory over Jose Mourinho’s men at St James’ Park on Saturday evening before having to settle for a 2-2 draw.
While there was disappointment on Tyneside on the final whistle, there was also renewed belief and a sense that head coach Steve McClaren’s pleas for patience might just have some merit.
A testing fixture list – they have already faced Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea during the opening weeks of the campaign – takes them to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, but it is a trip £13million summer signing Mitrovic is relishing.
He told nufcTV: “This game is very good for our confidence. We saw tonight we can play against big teams. We need to work this week very hard.
“We have a very difficult game, maybe more difficult than (Chelsea), against City on Saturday, but we need to believe.
“As I said, we will work hard all week and we need to go there with confidence and try to win the game.”
The Magpies, so abject in their Capital One Cup defeat against a much-changed Sheffield Wednesday in midweek, responded in just the fashion McClaren had hoped, initially by defending robustly before eventually opening up and taking the game to the visitors.
When Ayoze Perez fired them into a 42nd-minute lead as the Chelsea defence slept, it was not against the run of play, and they gave themselves breathing space on the hour when a criminally unmarked Georginio Wijnaldum headed home a Perez corner.
But bolstered by the introduction of Brazilian substitutes Ramires and Willian, Mourinho’s men launched a concerted fightback and got their reward when the former smashed a 79th-minute piledriver into the top corner before the latter snatched a point with a wicked free-kick with four minutes left on the clock.
Mitrovic, who turned in a disciplined individual display on his return from a three-match ban, said: “We can be disappointed and happy at the same time, but we gave a good performance, especially in the first half. We played really good football like a team.
“Chelsea were huge in the last 20 minutes and showed why they were champions last year. They scored two goals.
“But we need to be happy and we need to keep working to play like this next week as well.”
If there were mixed emotions on Tyneside, there were too on the Chelsea bus as it pulled away from St James’ with Mourinho having branded his team’s first-half display as the worst of his reign.
But there was at least a smile on the face of midfielder Ramires, who dedicated his second goal of the season to his new baby son Bruno, who was born on Friday.
He told Chelsea TV: “I am very happy because I scored one goal before and my baby was born yesterday and today I scored one more for my baby and my wife.
“We were losing the game and we reacted in the second half. I was happy to get on to the pitch and to help the team.”
The contributions of Ramires and Willian ensured Chelsea avoided a fourth successive league defeat at Newcastle, but they have little time to reflect upon their escape with a tough champions League trip to their manager’s former club Porto on Tuesday.
Ramires said: “It’s a difficult game, like this game today, and we need to prepare because the game is very difficult. I played a lot there when I played for Benfica and it will be really, really, tough.”