In-Form Mitro Hails United's Battling Spirit
Written by Rory Mitchinson
Aleksandar Mitrović hailed his side's battling spirit as Newcastle United held off a late Preston North End fightback to register a seventh consecutive win in all competitions.
The in-form frontman netted both goals for United at Deepdale, having struck twice in Tuesday night's 6-0 rout of the Lilywhites in the EFL Cup at St. James' Park.
His first - just before the hour-mark - followed a spell of concerted Preston pressure, Simon Grayson's side much-improved from their midweek mauling on Tyneside.
The Serbian then converted DeAndre Yedlin's cross at the second attempt to seemingly put United out of sight, only for Preston substitute Jermaine Beckford to halve the deficit with 90 minutes on the clock.
Newcastle were forced to dig deep during a sizeable amount of added time, North End's Marnick Vermijl hitting the woodwork with the last kick of the game.
Mitrovicić was not surprised that today's encounter contrasted massively to the two sides' last meeting, and paid tribute to his teammates for holding their nerve.
"It was a really good team performance," he told nufc.co.uk. "I scored two goals, but the most important thing was to win this game. We won like a team - we were fighting all the game. In the past, this is the kind of game we would lose. We would lose 1-0, or something like that. Today we showed that we have learned from that.
"It was always going to be tough because we won 6-0 on Tuesday, and it could have been more. Preston wanted to show that was not a fair result. The important thing is that we have three points, and now we have to carry on and try to keep this mentality and confidence."
Mitrović has now struck six times in his last four appearances for club and country, having notched another brace for his native Serbia against Austria earlier this month.
Though pleased with his recent run, the popular frontman remains firmly focused on helping the Magpies consolidate their place at the top of the Sky Bet Championship.
"It has been an amazing week," he said. "The only thing I can do is work hard and when I get a chance, I try to take it. It is up to the gaffer if I play or not.
"We have a lot of quality in the side and a lot of quality on the bench. The deliveries for both goals today were amazing. I knew I would not get a lot of chances, so when they came, I just had to try and stay focussed.
"It is a good achievement to be where we are, but the season is really long. We want to stay on top and win this league. There are a lot of games to play, and this is the way we have to go on. We have to keep working and try and win every game."
It was a really good team performance