By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Managing Editor
Alan Pardew hailed the efforts of his Newcastle United stars after they exited the Europa League at the quarter-final stage on Thursday night.
A 1-1 second-leg draw against Benfica was not enough for the Magpies, who went out 4-2 on aggregate, but it was a gutsy, spirited display from the hosts to have the Portuguese giants on the ropes for much of the second half.
In the end, Papiss Cisse's header - which gave United so much hope - was cancelled out in stoppage time by Eduardo Salvio.
But there was no anger from the manager, instead huge pride at getting so close to a place in the final four of the competition.
"It was a great night, and in a lot of ways you can't take much more out of a defeat than that," Pardew told nufcTV following the final whistle.
"We put everything at risk tonight and forgot about the Sunderland game (on Sunday). We tried to go for it.
"In the first leg in Benfica they exposed us by cutting through our wide players, but we wouldn't let that happen tonight.
"Once we got them on the backfoot they got very nervous, and we are so unlucky not to be in the semi-final, for sure.
"I'm proud to be manager of this football club. What a credit we have been to this competition and to Europe.
"And I'm not just talking about the team, I'm talking about the whole club, the fans and the way they've conducted themselves on this little European tour of ours."