Chris Hughton is bracing himself for a dramatic end to a traumatic Barclays Premier League season convinced Newcastle can escape the drop.

The caretaker boss saw his side turn in a spirited performance to take a shock lead against runaway leaders Manchester United before finally succumbing to goals from Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov.

However, Hughton took enough encouragement from the 90 minutes to believe they can avoid relegation, saying; "It leaves us in a fight at the wrong end of the table, and it's going to be a fight that's going to take us right through to the last weeks of the season."

He added: "But on the back of a very disappointing result last week [at Bolton], our main object was to be able to bounce back.

"We could have bounced back in two ways: one, by getting a result, which was always going to be very difficult against a Manchester United team in such good form and with such choices; but the one thing we wanted to do was put on a spirited enough performance.

"It was a very disappointed changing room. It was a changing room that put on a spirited enough performance to get something from the game, and everybody who saw the game would admit that."

It all started so well for the home side, who forced their way in front against the odds with just nine minutes gone.

Edwin van der Sar spilled Jonas Gutierrez's shot and Peter Lovenkrands pounced to beat the Dutchman for the first time in 1,311 minutes of league football dating back to November 8.

The lead was to last just 11 minutes before Wayne Rooney turned superbly away from Fabricio Coloccini to fire past keeper Steve Harper.

Dimitar Berbatov clinched the victory with 56 minutes gone when, after Park Ji-Sung had capitalised on Ryan Taylor's slip, the Bulgarian converted his pass from close range.

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Topics:
Dimitar Berbatov
Football
Ryan Taylor
Edwin Van der Sar
Bolton Wanderers
Steve Harper
Premier League
Fabricio Coloccini
Manchester United
Wayne Rooney
Peter Lovenkrands
Jonas Gutierrez
Ryan Taylor
Ji-Sung Park