Steve Bruce’s side were beaten 2-0 by Chelsea at St James’s Park on Saturday – and the scoreline didn’t reflect the visitors’ dominance.
United went behind early in the game to a Federico Fernandez own goal, and Tammy Abraham put the behind-closed-doors game behind them with a 65th-minute strike.
However, Newcastle, too deep before the break, were better in the second half.
“Second-half, there was a lot of pleasing points,” said Bruce. “But, make no mistake, it was a very difficult afternoon.”
Bruce had made four changes to his team – Joelinton, Javier Manquillo, Isaac Hayden and Ciaran Clark came into his starting XI – for the Premier League game, which followed a two-week international break.
And Bruce highlighted the contributions of Joelinton, in for injured striker Callum Wilson, and midfielder Sean Longstaff when asked for the positives he took from United’s second-half performance.
“I thought Sean did very well,” said head coach Bruce, who is preparing his team for Friday night’s game against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. “I thought Joelinton played very well on the day. There are lots of positives.
“Look, it’s a team. They went higher up the pitch (after the break). They had a really decent spell against them. I watched them play against Sheffield United last week, and Burnley the week before. It’s very , very difficult, because they’re such a good team with such good players. It was a difficult afternoon in the first half in particular.”