Newcastle United star ‘protects’ Bruno Guimaraes from what Nottingham Forest players tried to do on Friday
Newcastle United midfielder Sean Longstaff enjoyed a memorable return to the ground where he made his senior debut for the club on Friday night.
An Alexander Isak brace helped Newcastle come from behind to beat Nottingham Forest 2-1 after Emmanuel Dennis had given the hosts the lead at The City Ground. It confirmed back-to-back wins for Eddie Howe’s side to keep them fifth in the table heading into the international break.
“It's [a] massive result in our season,” Longstaff said afterwards. “We'd been a bit up and down and I think the last two results have put us in a really good position, given us the chance to have a break and get some players back. It's a massive result, not an easy place to come and we fought all night so not the prettiest of results and the performance but at least we won.”
It was Longstaff’s first return to Forest as a player since making his competitive debut for Newcastle in the Carabao Cup at 20-years-old. Now 25, the midfielder is relishing being a regular in The Magpies’ starting line-up as they battle for a Champions League place.
“I remember walking off the bus [on Friday evening] and remembered the first time walking off the bus playing for Newcastle and how nervous I was that night,” he added. “So to see how far I've come, all the ups and downs, it was quite special to come back here in the Premier League because it's a great stadium and I thought the atmosphere was amazing. It was a good night and nice to see how far I've come.”
Longstaff featured in some key moments in the match as he was denied by the crossbar after his deflected shot looped over Forest goalkeeper Keylor Navas in the first half. The 25-year-old was also adjudged to have been offside in the build-up to Elliot Anderson’s first goal for the club which was ruled out by VAR.
"Only Geordies allowed to score are me and Burny,” Longstaff jokingly teased Anderson on Instagram after the match. Longstaff has three goals in 34 appearances for Newcastle in all competitions this season while Dan Burn found the net in a 2-0 Carabao Cup quarter-final win over Leicester City in January.
Some crunching challenges from Nottingham Forest helped set-up a feisty Friday night affair which referee Paul Tierney struggled to control. And Longstaff felt the Forest players, including his former team-mate Jonjo Shelvey – who jokingly branded Newcastle ‘whingebags’ after the game – were targeting Magpies playmaker Bruno Guimaraes.
“It set the tone a little bit, especially the one on Bruno,” Longstaff told The Gazette. “I think maybe one or two [you accept] he's such a good player that teams are going to target him a little bit but when there's three, four, five tackles going in I think maybe I have to step in and protect him a little bit.
"I thought he dealt with that really well. Maybe a couple of others were trying to get into a bit of a fight back but the gaffer set us right at half-time and made the change where El [Anderson] came on and I thought we were really good in the second half.
"A massive win and hopefully a big turning point in the season.”