Football - Pardew eyeing 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 final dashed at the death.

PA Sport

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 swiftly turned his attention to Sunday's Barclays Premier League showdown with derby rivals Sunderland knowing victory would effectively end their fears of being dragged into a relegation scrap, but already plotting a fresh assault on European qualification next season.

He 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.

"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."

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