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Newcastle could do no more against Benfica, insists Pardew

Papiss Cisse gave the Toon hope on 71 minutes after twice being denied by the assistant referee's flag, but Eduardo Salvio killed off the tie with a clinical finish late on

Alan Pardew insists he is proud of his players despite Newcastle bowing out of the Europa League against Benfica on Thursday evening.

Trailing 3-1 from the first leg, the Toon knew they would need to mount a stirring comeback in order to make the last four of the competition, roared on by a passionate St James' Park crowd.

Papiss Cisse gave the hosts hope when he nodded home on 71 minutes after twice being denied by the assistant referee's flag, but Eduardo Salvio killed off the tie with a clinical finish in injury time.

The 4-2 aggregate defeat ends the European adventure which has proved a welcome distraction from a disappointing Premier League campaign, but Pardew is adamant his men could do no more.

"They are a good side - you can't let them get a lead against you," he told ITV.

"In the first half we kept it tight and looked to nick a goal - and almost did before half-time.

"We had two or three big chances at 1-0 but you can't ask for anything more from the crowd, the players.

"You've got to respect the opposition - technically they are a superb side.

"I am so proud of the performance - we couldn't have done any more.

"We've got some very good players - when we get them all back we've got a very good side."

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