Alan Pardew has finally admitted Newcastle are in the hunt for Champions League qualification after seeing Hatem Ben Arfa light up their bid.
The Frenchman scored a goal of jaw-dropping quality to set the Magpies on their way to a hard-fought 2-0 victory over Bolton, their fifth successive win in the Barclays Premier League. It left them level on points with fourth-placed Tottenham, who lost 2-1 at home to promoted Norwich, with five games of a wholly unexpected campaign to go.
Asked about the possibility of a top-four finish, Pardew said: "I have never actually ruled it out. You guys kept saying to me, 'Are you going to make the Champions League?', and I said we were just looking to win the next game. This week could be important for us because if the [FA Cup] semi-final results go our way, we could be in Europe, I think, by next weekend."
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