Dubai: Under-fire Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce was impressed with the grit his side showed as they scored a stoppage-time equaliser to snatch a point in a 1-1 draw at home to Aston Villa in their battle to avoid relegation from the Premier League.
Ciaran Clarke’s own goal in the 86th minute had put Villa ahead but his central defensive partner Jamaal Lascelles headed home four minutes into added time to secure Newcastle’s third draw in a row in the league, despite some poor performances.
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“There are still 10 games to go. We’re unbeaten in our last couple. We’ve got to show the same attitude and hopefully big players are back around the corner. That gives us something to focus on and I’m still convinced we’ll be OK,” said Bruce. “There wasn’t much in the game. Arguably we had the best chances but the goal they scored was a bit of a fluke. Then you have to show desire to get back into it and we did that. We at least deserved that,” he told BT Sport.
Bruce has been heavily criticised by Newcastle’s fans for how his side have played this season, but he said his experience may be what the club needed to avoid the drop. The draw against Villa puts the Magpies two points above the drop zone.
“There is no question managing Newcastle is always difficult. There’s a huge spotlight and that’s the way it should be. I’m ready for the challenge and my experience I hope will prove vital,” added Bruce.
For Villa boss Dean Smith, it was a game he would like to forget in a hurry. “When you’re a goal up with four minutes to go you’re disappointed naturally,” he said. “We didn’t deserve to win the game. It wasn’t a game for the purists, I thought it was a bit of an ugly game. They probably had the best chances but we should see it out.”