Rafa Benitez believes his side had the chances to win at Brighton.

Whilst many pundits and Newcastle fans thought the team had showed far too little attacking intent until the final stages when Brighton invited them on, Rafa preferred to look at Joselu’s missed chance in the first half and claimed another ‘three or four good positions where we should have done better’.

Newcastle are now ninth in the table with nine points, which is probably a fair return for the team.

The four games against Huddersfield, Brighton, Swansea and Stoke could all have easily ended up as draws, but with two wins and two defeats, Newcastle have come away with six points instead of the four that a quartet of draws would have given.

Like the Huddersfield game, failing to score certainly points to a lack of quality going forward at times, with the team struggling unless everybody is on their game.

Summing up his mood, Rafa Benitez declared after the final whistle: ‘I was happy before the game and not so happy after the game’.

The interesting question now is what the United boss will do with his team selection after this defeat, with both Shelvey and Gayle in particular, available to start, along with back from suspension Aleksandar Mitrovic…

Rafa Benitez:

“We gave them some chances and we had some chances of our own as well.

“We finished the game very strongly, creating a lot of chances.

“We had chances but didn’t take them.

“There was a chance for Joselu in the first half and then in the second half we had three or four good positions where we should have done better.

“We have to learn from this defeat.

“In the Premier League, you have to take your chances when they come along.

“You have to take your chances and you also have to be stronger in defence if you want to make sure that you will have a clean sheet.

“It was a block (on Mbemba for the goal), an illegal block.

“You cannot argue too much but it is very difficult to understand some things.

“They pushed my players. I am not happy with the way we conceded.

“At the end we had the control.

“Credit to them because they did well in the first half. We passed the ball a little better (in the later stages) and  they were defending more because they were winning.

“I was happy before the game and not so happy after the game. It is a long way to go so we have to keep going and keep improving.”

Stats from BBC Sport:

Brighton 1 Newcastle 0

Goals:

Brighton: Hemed 51

Possession was Brighton 49% Newcastle 51%

Total shots were  Brighton 7 Newcastle 17

Shots on target were Brighton 3 Newcastle 5

Corners were  Brighton 2 Newcastle 8

Referee: Andre Marriner

Newcastle United:

Elliot, Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Mbemba (Gamez 83), Ritchie, Hayden (Shelvey 68), Merino, Atsu, Perez, Joselu (Gayle 71)

Unused Subs:

Darlow, Manquillo, Murphy, Diame

Crowd: 30,468 (approx 2,500 Newcastle)

(Alan Shearer’s reaction to Newcastle defeat HERE)

(Small-time Brighton journalist trolls Newcastle fans and they respond, read it HERE)

(Go HERE to read instant Newcastle fan/writer reaction to the defeat at Brighton)

(Read Chris Hughton’s post-match reaction HERE)