Rafa Benitez says that the match at Ashton Gate worked out much as he thought it would.

The Newcastle boss says that he knew it would be a hard game and says that after Dwight Gayle put Unite dahead in the 19th minute, the match was ‘a war of long balls, second balls, and things like this’.

Rafa had identified one of the biggest challenges and said that with three opposition players who were all at least 6ft 3 (190cm) tall, Newcastle would have have to stand up to the physical side of the game.

He said that when a team works as hard as his players did on Saturday, they might lose the odd match but they will win an awful lot more.

When it comes to individuals, Rafa Benitez was keen to praise Yoan Gouffran, somebody who even he thought was certain to leave this summer.

Playing in the last two games, both wins, the Newcastle manager seems to have had a change of heart, but who knows what will happen in these final days of the transfer window.

Rafa Benitez talking to the club’s official TV channel:

“I think it was important to get three points, to show the character. It was a difficult game and we knew it could be like this.

“As soon as we scored the goal we knew it could be a war of long balls, second balls, and things like this.

“The team worked very hard, some players who were not too much involved in pre-season and still they were working very hard.

“So pleased for us, pleased for everyone here, and pleased for the fans who were amazing again.

“I said that it wasn’t easy to defend when they have three players more than one point ninety (190cm – 6ft 3), we were suffering sometimes but we had two or three other good chances on the counter-attack but didn’t get final pass right – something we have to improve.”

‘You must have been pleased with the move for the goal?’

“Yes, we were talking about that (watch the goal HERE) before the game, using the pace of Dwight (Gayle) and we knew that it could be like this because they were pressing really high.

“The best thing they did was to work hard. After, you can be right you can be wrong, but if you work as hard as they were working today, altogether, it will be difficult for teams to beat us.

“You can lose wins, you can draw games, but you have more chances to win.”

‘Jamaal Lascelles came back in, was that type of performance what you were wanting from him?’

“Not just him but the rest of the team as well. It is not fair to talk only well about Jamaal, if you want to praise someone, maybe someone like Gouffran who was not involved in pre-season. Everyone was thinking, even us, that maybe he could leave – he plays two games and we win two games, he was giving everything.

“When you are fighting and the game is so close, the fans can make a difference.”

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