Papiss Cisse gave the Magpies a dream start to their clash in Portugal, netting the opening goal of the night after 12 minutes.
However, the home side surged back to take the win, courtesy of efforts from Rodrigo, Lima and Oscar Cardozo.
Pardew confessed after the game that his team are up against it, but that he feels Cisse’s strike could have a major impact on the tie:
“If we’d finished 2-1 you’d like to think we’d have a fantastic chance, but it’s an uphill chance now,” he told Sky Sports.
“I think the away goal could come into it if we get the first goal (in the second leg). If we can get the first goal, we only need one more.
“They are a quality side and we have to give them respect, but we showed tonight that, if we are ambitious, we can hurt a team.”
Lima’s goal, which gave Benfica the lead, came as a result of some slack defending from Davide Santon.
But, Pardew refused to lay the blame at the feet of any of his players, insisting that, despite the result, he was very happy with the performances produced:
“In terms of performance you can’t fault our players, it was a great effort.
“We can’t hold any blame. As a group we can be proud of the performance but disappointed in the result, that probably sums it up.”
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