Benitez hails Newcastle character after FA Cup progress

Date published: Wednesday 16th January 2019 8:20 - Joe Williams

Benitez F365

Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez hailed the character of his players after the Magpies’ 4-2 extra-time victory over Blackburn in their FA Cup third-round replay at Ewood Park.

The visitors – whose starting line-up showed eight changes from the 2-1 Premier League loss at Chelsea on Saturday – went 2-0 up early on via efforts from Sean Longstaff and Callum Roberts, two 21-year-olds each scoring their first goal for the club.

Championship outfit Blackburn fought back with goals from former Newcastle striker Adam Armstrong and Darragh Lenihan before half-time.

Benitez’s men subsequently secured a spot in the fourth round, in which they will host Watford, following extra-time strikes from Joselu and substitute Ayoze Perez.

The manager, who had two defenders come off injured in Ciaran Clark and Jamaal Lascelles, said: “I think it’s important to win, to score four goals and to go through. So I’m really pleased with that.

“At the same time you have some problems and maybe you will lose some players – hopefully not, we will see in a couple of days how they are.

“But OK, we won, and everybody has to be happy now and hopefully also it will help for the confidence of the players.

“After conceding and reacting like we did, as a manager I have to be really pleased with them.

“You wanted to win, you needed to win and to do it with the character they showed, with the reaction, and four goals – young players scoring goals, Joselu and Ayoze scoring goals, players who needed to score – that has to be good for the confidence of the team for sure.”

Benitez said he did not think Clark’s injury was very serious – he was substituted at half-time with a knee inflammation.

His replacement Lascelles then came off just before the hour mark due to a hamstring problem, and Benitez said: “Jamaal, we have to wait because it is too early. When it is a hamstring, you never know.”

Newcastle’s third goal came in controversial circumstances, Joselu following up after Fabian Schar’s shot was spilled by David Raya and the effort being allowed to stand despite the striker having looked offside when Schar hit the ball. VAR was not in use during the contest.

Blackburn boss Tony Mowbray said of the incident: “It’s not an argument, is it? It is offside, let’s be honest.

“If VAR was here, it’s no goal, is it? It makes me laugh sometimes. Just say it as it is. It’s offside. The official got it wrong. There’s not an argument about it, it’s offside.

“Maybe the world will change and VAR will prevent all the goals that go in that are not goals being goals. It can work for you sometimes and against you at other times.

“We’ll probably jump from human error to a guy sitting in a studio hundreds of miles away making an error as well some day, but there you go.”

When it was put to Benitez that his side had enjoyed a piece of luck in that instance, he said: “No, I don’t think that was luck.

“I think the second goal before was a foul against one of our players, and a free-kick, and then they score. These things can happen.

“In this case we scored the third goal. You can complain if you want, but I think overall we scored four goals, so it’s difficult to complain about that.”


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