Steve Bruce believed Newcastle earned their point against Liverpool not just for their defensive resilience – but had obvious praise for goalkeeper Karl Darlow.
Newcastle became the first team to keep a clean sheet against the champions in the Premier League this season by claiming a 0-0 draw in the final game of 2020.
It marked a first clean sheet in five games for Bruce’s side, who can end the year on a high note after enduring mixed fortunes over the past 12 months.
The festive schedule saw Newcastle play the last two Premier League champions – Manchester City and Liverpool – in successive games. While they did not win either, Bruce is happy with the way they responded to the challenge – and especially with the point they earned on Wednesday night.
Indeed, he believes Newcastle were well worth their point, in a game in which both goalkeepers stood out.
Bruce told Amazon Prime: “We rode our luck at times and our keeper has made a few saves which you have to when you’re playing against one of the best teams in the country and in Europe.
“But their keeper made a couple of great saves as well so I couldn’t fault them to a man.
“We did cause a few problems for ourselves. We need to improve on the ball, especially late on we gave it away cheaply and caused ourselves a few problems with that but that’s probably the tiredness and fatigue.
“They’ve put in a hell of a shift not just tonight but the other day against Man City as well.”
The man of the match was Newcastle keeper Karl Darlow, who has stepped up well in the absence of Martin Dubravka.
Bruce praised Darlow for his patience, and confirmed it would be hard to drop him after that performance.
He said: “He’s had to wait patiently for his chance and certainly with the way he’s trained – Martin Dubravka is now back fit but we needed our second goalkeeper to step up and at the moment the jersey’s his because of his performances.
“We’ve had to call on him a bit too much at times but there’s no denying he’s been terrific all season.”
Bruce delighted with Wilson
At the other end of the pitch, Bruce praised the impact Callum Wilson has made up front since joining the club.
He said of the striker: “He’s a proper number nine. He’s been terrific since he arrived and given us that goal threat and physicality.
“He leads the line terrifically well we have to improve to get him some support and something to feed off.
“In the final third that’s what we need to do – defensively we do well but we need to convert it into opportunities for our centre-forward.”