Alexander Isak hits injury-time winner

Alexander Isak netted an injury-time penalty as Newcastle boosted their top-four Premier League hopes with a 2-1 injury-time win in their relegation battle with Nottingham Forest.

The Magpies looked as if they would have to settle for a draw, but Isak’s free-kick earned a deserved three points, putting them within a point of fourth-placed Tottenham with a game in hand.

Forest had put the club ahead midway through the first half with Emmanuel Dennis’ opening goal, but Isak equalized brilliantly just before half-time, volleying home.

A second half of frustration unfolded for Eddie Howe’s side as they searched for a winner, not least when they had a goal that was controversially ruled out by VAR.

But Isak had the final say from the point after Moussa Niakhate’s handball to keep the dream of Champions League football alive next season.

The late goal saw Forest beaten at the city ground for the first time in 10 games since September and they could end the weekend back in the relegation zone.

The win was just what Newcastle deserved as they didn’t start like a side who haven’t had an away win in 2023. They had their hosts on the post in the first 15 minutes and created two great chances to take an early lead.

They definitely should have taken the lead in the sixth minute when Jacob Murphy put his cross into a dangerous area on the right and Joe Willock was there first, but he fired his first try well above pressure from Serge Aurier.

They were inches from goal six minutes later when Kieran Trippier slid a skillful free-kick into Isak and the Swede’s shot was deflected by Aurier to Renan Lodi and then under the bar.

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Forest weathered the storm and they took the lead in the 26th minute, despite being gift-wrapped by the visitors.

Sven Botman appeared to have Jonjo Shelvey’s long ball under control but he passed back to goalkeeper Nick Pope without looking and Dennis was there to intercept it and go home in style to score his first goal for Forest.

The hosts enjoyed the pressure for a while but Newcastle hit the bar again in the 35th minute. Murphy stole the ball from Lodi and set Longstaff down on the edge of the area and his shot was deflected off Felipe onto the crossbar.

But eventually they got some luck with the woodwork as they found the perfect timing to equalize when Isak made it 1-1 in first-half injury time.

When Forest called for a free-kick, Willock broke the lines down the right and sent in a cross that was just behind Isak, but the forward produced a beautiful volley that hit the post.

It was a lively start to the second half and Newcastle were the attackers again as half-time substitute Elliot Anderson nearly scored with his first significant touch, but Keylor Navas tipped over a vicious shot.

Navas was called into action again as he overplayed Bruno Guimaraes’ sharp shot as the visitors’ pressure mounted.

And Newcastle thought they had it in the 63rd minute when Anderson headed Isak’s cross home at the far post in front of a sold-out end that went wild with celebration.

But it was short-lived as referee Paul Tierney ruled after VAR’s intervention that Longstaff interfered with Lodi’s clearance ahead of the cross when he was flagged for offside.

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It was all Newcastle for the last 20 minutes as they looked for a winner and it finally got to injury time when Niakhate’s raised arm touched the ball and Isak converted coolly from the penalty spot.

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