Alan Pardew conceded Newcastle United were second best in their 3-0 loss to Chelsea, but was able to find some positives from the defeat.
An Eden Hazard hat-trick sent Newcastle crashing to defeat at Stamford Bridge as Pardew's men drew a blank in front of goal for the third game in a row.
Despite slumping to a 10th Premier League loss of the season, Pardew was pleased with certain aspects of his side's performance and rued a missed opportunity in the first half to level the match.
Moussa Sissoko wasted a fantastic chance just after the half hour and Chelsea added further misery as Hazard went down the other end of the pitch to double their lead.
"I thought we played very well with the players we had available," said Pardew, referring to a host of injuries in his squad.
"We had a chance at 1-0 to throw confusion into the game, but we missed that and they got the second.
"There are a few positives for ourselves – Sammy Ameobi, Paul Dummett and Luuk de Jong all gave performances to work with."
The Newcastle boss was also full of praise for Hazard and backed Jose Mourinho's side to be challenging for the Premier League title in May as Chelsea went top thanks to the win.
"They're a good team," he added. "Their work rate was phenomenal for a team with the technical ability they have.
"I've played against Chelsea teams under Mourinho many times and this is as good as he's had. They've got a good chance.
"The back four were tough, (Nemanja) Matic in front of them gives the stability for someone like Hazard to create the damage that he did.
"I thought his second goal was real class and he's at the top of his game. His work rate and everything else was excellent, and that's why he's a top player."