EDDIE HOWE insists he has no regrets about refusing to try to protect a Europa League place during last night’s Champions League defeat to AC Milan.

Had Newcastle claimed a draw at St James’ Park, they would have dropped into the Europa League for the second half of the season.

That was the scenario that appeared to be unfolding when they headed into the final ten minutes of the game with the score tied at 1-1, but rather than sitting back to protect what they had, Howe’s side poured forward in the closing stages chasing the win that would have seen them secure a place in the last-16 of the Champions League.


With a number of players caught upfield, Newcastle were hit with a sucker-punch with eight minutes left as an AC Milan counter-attack culminated in substitute Samuel Chukwueze sweeping home an 82nd-minute winner.

The defeat means Newcastle dropped out of Europe entirely, but Howe does not regret instructing his players to chase the win.

He said: “We wanted to qualify for the Champions League. That was very much our intention before the game, and in game. I’m not sure, in that moment, you can take that will away from the players.

“If you look at the goals we conceded, they’ve come from mistakes that can happen in any moment, whether you’re being proactive or reactive.

“Of course, I take ownership of that. I’d much rather have the intention of attacking and trying to win rather than the other way round.”

Howe did, however, admit to his intense disappointment as Newcastle’s return to the Champions League after an absence of more than two decades ended with an exit at the group stage.

He said: “We’re desperately disappointed. It’s tough to take at the moment, but the lads played very well in that first half. I thought we were good value for the lead.

“I was hoping the goal would come earlier than it did, and in the second half, we wanted to try to consolidate that and look for the second goal.

“I’m really disappointed with the first goal we conceded because I think that’s the key moment. We didn’t deal with a second-phase set-play well enough. It was an uncharacteristic goal for us to concede.

“Then the game became very transitional. It was end-to-end for both teams, with both teams looking to win, and we conceded on one of those transitions.”