Siem de Jong focused on crucial Norwich clash after Newcastle derby draw

21 March 2016 01:24

Siem de Jong has challenged Newcastle to use the momentum they gained from a battling derby draw with Sunderland to fuel a last-ditch surge out of relegation trouble.

The Magpies were in severe danger of being plunged even further into the mire in the Barclays Premier League when they went into the closing stages of Sunday's Tyne-Wear showdown with their arch-rivals trailing to Jermain Defoe's first-half strike.

However, £14.5million man Aleksandar Mitrovic dragged them back from the brink with a priceless 83rd-minute equaliser to snatch a 1-1 draw and keep them at least within touching distance of 17th-placed Norwich.

Rafael Benitez's men finished the game on the front foot as they looked for a late winner their performance did not warrant, and 27-year-old Holland international De Jong is hoping they can take that same focus and intensity into the remaining eight games.

He said: "It was a good day in the end for us. The crowd was really behind us and we tried to get the 2-1. Unfortunately, we only got the 1-1.

"It's different if you end the game with a goal rather than conceding. Maybe we had a better feeling that Sunderland had after the game.

"We need to focus on the next one now. They are all important games and unfortunately we could only manage one point."

That next game is the proverbial six-pointer, with Newcastle making the trip to Norwich on April 2 knowing it may not be a winner-takes-all contest, but as near as it gets.

The Canaries gave their own survival chances a major boost on Saturday when they won 1-0 at West Brom, and they sit three points clear of the Magpies with a superior goal difference, and two clear of Sunderland, who also have to travel to Carrow Road.

Those two fixtures are likely to have a significant say in which two of the three clubs - it seems unlikely that even Crystal Palace's free-fall will drag them into the mix - play their football in the Sky Bet Championship next season.

If Benitez's men are to avoid that fate, they will have to find further improvement after defeat at Leicester in the Spaniard's first game in charge and a derby performance which grew in intensity as it went on.

Sunderland were comfortably the better side before the break and had it not been for the excellence of goalkeeper Rob Elliot, they could have been out of sight long before the game reached its dramatic conclusion.

But they were not and when Georginio Wijnaldum stood up a teasing cross to the far post, Mitrovic, who has had little service so inviting during a frustrating first season on Tyneside, climbed majestically to power a header past Vito Mannone and spark a late, but ultimately fruitless, barrage.

De Jong said: "Of course they [Sunderland] were delaying play because they were feeling that we would score. In the end, we had a few opportunities to get a chance.

"Most of the time it was either a block or not enough power or whatever. With a bit of luck we could have got 2-1, and we need to continue this next game."

Source: PA