Federico Fernandez is urging Newcastle to build a winning mentality after helping them fight back to beat Southampton.
The Magpies were far from their best against the Saints, but eventually secured a priceless 2-1 victory at St James’ Park on Sunday to climb into the top half of the table at the end of a gruelling, but successful week.
A hard-fought 2-2 draw with champions Manchester City and back-to-back victories over Sheffield United and the Saints have left them on 22 points after 16 games, just two shy of fifth-placed Manchester United and confident of adding to their tally over a busy programme between now and the New Year.
Fernandez said: “We are working hard to keep our shape. We feel okay. We took our chances and they are great points.
“We need to enjoy this period and build a winning mentality. You never know where we can arrive at the end of the season, but we take it game by game.”
This particular game will be one, other than the result, which Newcastle may well want to forget.
They were simply not at the races before the break and had to rely upon keeper Martin Dubravka to make two fine saves from Nathan Redmond.
Indeed, they did not really find their feet until after Danny Ings’ 52nd-minute opener and even then only as a result of Andy Carroll’s introduction in place of £40million summer signing Joelinton, whose crisis of confidence is ongoing.
Carroll subjected central defenders Jack Stephens and Jan Bednarek to a physical onslaught and the only surprise was that it was he who provided the cross for Jonjo Shelvey to head the Magpies level with 22 minutes remaining rather than the other way around.
The direct approach paid dividends once again three minutes from time when the ball was cleared to another substitute, Sean Longstaff, and keeper Alex McCarthy could only parry his skidding drive to Fernandez, who needed no second invitation to dispatch it into the roof of the net.
He said: “I saw Longs have a great shot and I followed the ball. I was in the right place at the right moment. I was very happy to score here at home with all of the fans.”
If there was satisfaction on Tyneside, there was frustration for Southampton as they headed off on the long journey back to the South Coast empty-handed despite enjoying the better of much of the game and creating a series of chances.
Manager Ralph Hasenhuttl said: “That’s the next step we have to go in such tight games, to be more clinical in that moment.
“In the third game in a week where we have invested a lot, it’s normal that the concentration is not the highest when you have such moments, but in that moment, you must know that this can decide the game and that when you are one up, you must take something here.
“It’s really a pity.”
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