Three points against Stoke City sealed a place in the Premier League for next season and Alan Pardew was delighted with the way his side had come back from a goal behind.
"Second half we were really good and Stoke had problems with us, first half we were too slow with the ball and a little bit stretched at times.
"It's difficult. You have one eye on the cup final - I can excuse the players a little lull but second half we were terrific.
"We had a little chat at half-time, ironed a few things out because our league position doesn't reflect how good we are."
Two goals from striker Dwight Gayle took him to seven goals this season and he gave the manager options ahead of the cup final.
"Gayle is a player that, through injuries and our success in the first half of the season, just hasn't had enough game time this season.
"We had a problem in the last window with him. He was 'shall I go, shall I stay?' but we wanted him to stay. We got there in the end and he's been waiting for a chance.
"He's pushing for a start in the cup final and that's going to cause me a problem. I'll probably give him another go at Southampton and then reflect on it."
A couple of changes had to be made during the game due to injuries but the manager is expecting a clean bill of health ahead of the cup final against Manchester United.
"I think Yohan is okay, he kept getting bashed today as usual and he took a bash too far. Joe Ledley is a little bit more of a worry so he's probably sweating for the final but he's a strong boy.
"My experience of a cup final is three days before the final everybody is fit, and I expect Joe to be fit."
As in recent weeks the subject of a new contract for Alan was raised and the point was made that he didn’t want to sign until Premier League safety was confirmed.
"We've had a new deal in place but I was not going to sign it and put this club at risk.
"It's a big contract for this football club to keep me here and I wanted to be honourable and not sign it until we were safe."