Europa League now Newcastle's priority, says Pardew after Stoke win

The 51-year-old was full of praise for "world-class" Yohan Cabaye following Sunday's comeback victory, with attentions now turning to Thursday's clash with Anzhi Makhachkala

Alan Pardew has insisted that the Europa League is now Newcastle's priority this season, with the manager confident his side have all but secured Premier League safety following Sunday's 2-1 victory over Stoke.

Goals from Yohan Cabaye and Papiss Cisse helped the Magpies come from behind after Jonathan Walters' penalty to claim all three points and move nine clear of the relegation zone - with attentions now turning to Thursday's last-32 second leg tie with Anzhi Makhachkala.

"The most important priority for this week between Thursday and Sunday [against Wigan] is Thursday," Pardew told reporters.

20/1 Newcastle are 20/1 with BetVictor to beat Wigan 2-0 next Sunday
"I will play my best team [against Anzhi]. We're looking no further than Thursday night, we could have a really special night here.

"We have a great chance. We're in the last 16 teams in Europe, we've had to battle through too many games, too many for a Premier League team.

"You've got to get 40 points [to ensure league safety], but we're now seven points from that with nine games left, and you'd expect this team to follow through with that. The bigger picture is to finish strong and take that into next year."

Pardew was full of praise for stand-in captain Cabaye, who he hailed as "world class" following a brilliant free-kick equaliser, while also backing Steven Taylor for an England call-up, but he was critical of Cisse despite the striker’s last-minute winner.

"You can talk about spirit but you need world-class players. You need a world-class player to put that in the top corner from that free-kick to give you a foundation to win the game," he continued.

"I thought Steven Taylor gave a performance of England standard today, I think they really do need to have a look at him at centre-half because it’s a problem position.

"Papiss will be the first to tell you he was awful today, he couldn't do anything today. But then the moment comes.

"An eye-of-a-needle pass from [Sylvain] Marveaux, and most strikers would snatch at that, but he doesn't. He let the ball come all the way down and he finished it, and in the 92nd minute that’s not easy to do."

Tony Pulis, meanwhile, was left perplexed by referee Andre Mariner's decision not to award a penalty for a foul on Ryan Shotton in the first half, while also suggesting match-winner Cisse should have been sent off for an altercation with two of his players.

"It was disappointing, that’s been the story of our season away from home," he said.

"As a Premier League club, we've competed better away from home than in any of our previous five seasons. Problem is, we shoot ourselves in the foot or things conspire against us and that’s what’s happened again today.

"We could have had a penalty the first half and the incident with Cisse and Ryan [Shawcross] and Andy Wilkinson, another day he might not have even been on the pitch.

"I'm distraught at the result but the performance and commitment of the players was absolutely first class. If I have any qualms, its the penalty in the first half with Ryan Shotton, which I thought was a penalty."