'We weren't clinical enough' – Newcastle boss Howe reflects on EFL Cup final defeat to Man Utd
Eddie Howe could not hide his disappointment after Newcastle United were beaten 2-0 by Manchester United in the EFL Cup final, but the Magpies boss was still "proud" of his players.
Two first-half goals at Wembley took the game away from Newcastle, with Casemiro heading in a Luke Shaw free-kick before Sven Botman deflected Marcus Rashford's shot over stand-in goalkeeper Loris Karius.
Newcastle had been hoping to win their first trophy since the 1969 Fairs Cup, but had to look on as they lost to the same team and by the same score they had suffered in their last major final, the 1999 FA Cup.
"Naturally, I'm disappointed," Howe said at his post-match press conference. "I'm pleased with how we played. We were really good between both boxes but the penalty area is where games are won and lost. We weren't clinical enough.
"I've got no regrets with how we set up. We wanted to be brave as we have been all season; [we wanted to] have a go at Manchester United. It was a strange game, not much goalmouth action.
"I can't fault the players but the game was decided in big moments. We didn't defend the free-kick well enough."
Howe was pleased with the performance of his third-choice goalkeeper Karius, who came in with Nick Pope suspended and Martin Dubravka cup-tied.
"Karius did really well," he said about the German, who made seven saves. "His demeanour and distribution were good… he can be really proud of his efforts today."
Howe confirmed that Bruno Guimaraes, who came off with 12 minutes remaining, had twisted his ankle, adding that he did not think it was serious but would await further news.
Newcastle have gone four games without a win in all competitions (D2 L2), but Howe believes his team is playing well and is just missing the final finish, having scored just twice across those four games.
"I think the team's playing well, just maybe not as free-scoring as we were," he said. "It is the hardest challenge for any team. We had a lot of moments today where we could have opened them up and that's something we'll need to improve."
There was an impressive showing from Newcastle's fans, who made plenty of noise and supported their team throughout at Wembley.
"We felt nothing but support and love [from the fans]," Howe added. "It's so important that the players can play in a supportive environment. The scenes when we drove in [to the stadium] were exceptional, probably my words don't do it justice."