Eddie Howe has admitted Newcastle will probably need to beat both Paris St Germain and AC Milan to keep their Champions League dream alive.
The Magpies went down 2-0 at Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday evening as the Germans completed back-to-back Group F victories over the Premier League side.
They will head for Paris later this month having banked just four points from their first four fixtures and knowing anything less than three at the Parc des Princes could prove fatal with Milan due at St James’ Park in December.
Asked if they now needed to return from France with at least a point, Howe said: “Yes. It’s difficult to tell at this stage, but we are probably going to have to win our last two games.”
Howe was left to reflect on what might have been after a difficult night at Signal Iduna Park as the team he had fashioned from the remnants of his injury-hit squad failed to live up to his expectations.
His decision to start 19-year-old full-back Lewis Hall suffered an early setback when he picked up a ninth-minute booking which ultimately prompted his half-time withdrawal in a bid to avoid a second caution, and the Magpies improved, but not enough to make a difference.
Asked for his reflections on the performance, Howe said: “Very similar to Dortmund (at home) last month, a frustration on our performance knowing there is more in the tank to give. We’re better than that and can show a better version of ourselves than we did.
“I don’t think Dortmund have seen the best Newcastle and that always leaves a feeling of frustration. But we accept it, we’ve delivered it and we have to look to the future now.”
Niclas Fullkrug’s 26th-minute strike had sent Dortmund in at the break a goal to the good, and they returned to find a different Newcastle after a reshuffle in which Miguel Almiron and Anthony Gordon belatedly entered the fray.
The Magpies should have been back in the game when Tino Livramento presented Joelinton with a seemingly regulation header from close range at 1-0, but the Brazil international contrived to miss the target and his side was made to pay with 11 minutes remaining when the excellent Julian Brandt rounded off a swift counter-attack.
Howe said: “The intensity and quality of our usual game was missing. In saying that, we still had our moments and Joelinton’s header is the key moment in the game from our perspective.
“It was a really good move and I think he would back himself to score that if the chance came again. But that’s football and that’s one of the things that happens.”
For Dortmund head coach Edin Terzic, the victory was the perfect response to Saturday’s bruising 4-0 Bundesliga defeat by Bayern Munich, although he insisted there is work still to be done.
Terzic said: “We’ve managed to win twice against Newcastle, their only two defeats in 13 matches, every time with a clean sheet.
“We are very happy, but we know the seven points we have in the group are not enough to go to the round of 16. We need another few steps.
“We know what happened on Saturday, we can’t repair that in the Champions League, but what it is about is to take the right lessons, how we dealt with the defeat on Saturday, so I think we can be content with the performance today and now a very important match is awaiting us against Stuttgart.”