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Newcastle boss Alan Pardew wants European return
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew immediately set his sights on another continental campaign after seeing his hopes of a trip to the Europa League semi-finals dashed at the death.
The Magpies went into injury time in their quarter-final, second leg clash with Benfica at St James' Park leading 1-0 on the night and knowing a second would take them through on the away goals rule. However, Eduardo Salvio's late equaliser ensured it was the Portuguese league leaders who progressed courtesy of a 4-2 aggregate victory.
Pardew said: "It's something I said in the dressing room after because we have gained experience from this run. We have been out of Europe for a while but we have put ourselves back on the stage in a credible fashion and now we want to get more of it."
He added: "The only way you get more of it now, because we are out of this, is to next year get into Europe again and that will be our main aim next year, for sure.
"We have got a squad of players, I think, who can do that. I think we have shown that recently.
"Very good players are coming back to me. Hatem (Ben Arfa) - if he was fit in the first leg, who knows?
"I felt over the two legs Benfica had the rub of the green, really, because we perhaps could have won that."
Newcastle had returned from Lisbon trailing 3-1 despite taking the lead, but confident they could turn the tie around after twice hitting the post at the Estadio da Luz and gifting Benfica their advantage.
Papiss Cisse, who had earlier seen two efforts ruled out for offside, headed them in front with 19 minutes remaining, the game was set for a dramatic conclusion. But when the decisive moment arrived deep into injury time, it was at the other end of the pitch with Salvio ending Benfica's fears once and for all.
Benfica coach Jorge Jesus said: "Today was a great day for our team. It showed the quality of our team. It's great for us to be in the semi-finals of this competition for the second time in four years."
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