Rafa Benitez was unapologetic after Newcastle’s latest FA Cup exit.

The club attempting to reach the FA Cup fifth round for the first time under Mike Ashley’s ownership, the United boss made nine changes.

Rafa including Barlaser and El-Mhanni for only their second ever first team match, the back from injury Mitrovic and Gamez, plus Curtis Good who last played in the first team in 2013.

After the final whistle Rafa Benitez stating: ‘I said before, if we go through it has to be using the squad and if we can’t, we can’t’.

The Newcastle Manager happy to say that he was looking after his first choice team that will be taking on QPR and Derby County.

The only two players to survive in the starting eleven after the 4-0 win over Rotherham were Isaac Hayden and Ayoze Perez.

It is all about whether the end justifies the means.

If Newcastle take six points from QPR and Derby then the FA Cup defeat will be easily dismissed by many supporters BUT if United struggle in those games then a minority will be questioning loudly just what was the point of playing such a weakened team in the FA Cup.

Rafa Benitez:

“Yes it is very clear (that had to look after his first team ahead of this weeks Championship matches).

“I said before, if we go through it has to be using the squad and if we can’t, we can’t.

“We didn’t underestimate Oxford…

“We didn’t take our chances in the first half, we then missed a penalty and Oxford took their chances.

“You have to give credit to them as they were fighting for the result and we just made too many mistakes, then paid for the first one at the start of the second half.

“I feel sorry for the fans and for us, as we wanted to go through and we could have done on the chances created in the first half.

“It is something we need to analyse and find out why we made the mistakes we did and be ready for the next game.”

Stats from BBC Sport:

Oxford 3 Newcastle 0

Goals:

Oxford: Hemmings 46, Nelson 79, Martinez 87

Possession was Oxford 48% Newcastle 52%

Total shots were Oxford 14 Newcastle 11

Shots on target were Oxford 5 Newcastle 5

Corners were Oxford 9 Newcastle 10

Referee: David Coote

Crowd: 11,819 (Newcastle 1,800)

Newcastle United:

Sels, Good, Hanley, Gamez, Haidara (Ritchie 77), Lazaar, Hayden, Barlaser, El-Mhanni (Gouffran 68), Perez, Mitrovic

Unused Subs:

Elliot, Yedlin, Dummett, Lascelles, Shelvey

(To read the instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to the game go HERE)

(Also, read My sympathies to all who paid to see that)