Reflecting on his players making it eight wins in a row (seven in Championship), the Rafa Benitez reaction was ‘this is Championship football’.
The later stages of Saturday’s game saw Cardiff launching the ball into the Newcastle penalty area from near the halfway line and the United boss felt the referee leaned towards the opposition, with far too many soft free-kicks given.
Whilst Neil Warnock claimed he was the unlucky one, he failed to mention that the one goal Cardiff did manage was via a blatant handball as well as possibly offside.
Rafa Benitez was happy with his players’ control of the game overall and his main message for the team that that ‘you have to take your chances in football’.
Atsu and Gouffran scored two very good team goals but failing to get the third and passing up chance after chance, always leaves the door open potentially.
Happy with the backing from the fans at a game where Newcastle had their most supporters present than at any other match this season, Rafa Benitez declared that he, the players and the fans ‘have to stick together’.
Rafa Benitez talking to the club’s official TV channel:
“We needed to score the third goal to finish the game and didn’t do it.
“They were pushing and this is Championship football: throw-ins and free-kicks, the ball in the box. The referee was allowing too many contacts and this is always good for the team that is strong physically and they look for this kind of things.
“A great start (Atsu goal) and after we had two or three chances, the same situation as we had in the second half. Having two or three options and you have to be more clinical to finish the game.
“If you analyse the whole game, we had the control and created the chances we wanted to create – you have to take your chances in football.”
‘Maybe a handball and offside on their goal?’
“We have seen that he moved his arm. Watching the replay it was handball.
“You have to accept what happened and just relax now in the international break.”
‘Must feel good to be winning game after game?’
“Obviously you have the confidence you can do it but it is not easy in any division.
“So to see your team scoring goals and winning games is always nice for a manager.”
‘How pleasing is it to see your team also seeing games out like that, dealing with late pressure?’
“To be fair, I am not very happy to have to defend.
“You can’t always stop a long throw-in or free-kick from the middle of the pitch, so you have to defend and we did quite well.
“If you consider they were given so many, the referee was giving a lot of free-kicks.”
‘Did the fans help?’
“I said before, the fans are crucial to our success.
“If the team continue winning and they (Newcastle fans) continue pushing, we will be strong.
“We have to stick together.”