Rafa Benitez was a happy/relieved man after the final whistle.

A very poor game was endured by the Newcastle fans but there is nothing quite like a late winner to send everybody home happy.

The United boss felt his side dipped below standards they have set this season but that on matchdays like this one ‘it’s even more important for us to get three points’.

Rafa Benitez says that he and his staff knew how dangerous Mikel Merino can be when getting on the end of set-pieces, a valuable extra to his passing ability.

Moving into sixth, even if only temporarily, the Newcastle managers says ‘at the moment we are in a good position’.

Long may it continue.

Rafa Benitez:

“It is important to get three points in a difficult game – they had confidence and were working hard.

“It is another step forward and the main thing is we keep pushing and winning games.

“We have a very clear idea and have to take one game at a time. At the moment we are in a good position.

“In this case, without playing at the level at which we have been playing in the past, it’s even more important for us to get three points.

“The way that we scored, good delivery and then good determination from Merino, that is also really important – to show the character of the team.

“Until the end we were trying to control, to attack, to push and that is what we have to do.

“We knew when he (Mikel Merino) was in Osasuna he was strong on corners – we knew about this option.

“It is not the main thing, the best thing he can do is pass the ball.

“Could we play a little bit better? Maybe.

“But Palace were well organised, they have confidence, they have pace, good counter-attacking.

“So it was very important for us to keep them at the bottom of the table by winning.

“When you win a game, you have to be really pleased.”

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 1 Crystal Palace 0


Newcastle: Merino 86

Possession was Palace 45% Newcastle 55%

Total shots were  Palace 10 Newcastle 7

Shots on target were Palace 0 Newcastle 3

Corners were  Palace 5 Newcastle 3

Referee: Stuart Attwell

Newcastle United:

Elliot, Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Manquillo, Ritchie, Shelvey, Hayden (Merino 56), Atsu, Perez (Diame 66), Joselu (Mitrovic 78)

Unused Subs:

Darlow, Clark, Gamez, Murphy

Crowd: 52,251

(Garth Crooks believes Newcastle could win the Premier League if Rafa is given right resources – Read HERE)

(Read instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to the Palace match HERE)

(Alan Shearer reacts to win over Palace HERE)

(Amusing Roy Hodgson hard luck story after final whistle HERE)

  • StevieB

    I’ve seen to many times over the years when we’ve “shown great heart and promise” but been pipped for a 1-0 from a glancing header over n the past so it’s nice to see us bring the ones sneaking the glancing header winners in these days . The fact is yet again our back four dealt with a hugely tricky forward line up in the shape of Zaha and Townsend and I for one never felt in any danger from them , which is great considering the pair of them blew Chelsea away last week !!!

    • Guest 2

      Or Man Utd’s seven 1-0 wins, from January in the 95/96 season. We missed the title by 4 points. Just goes to show.

  • steve pearce

    When the worst Newcastle United performance of the season can end up in a 1-0 victory shows that with a quality manager anything is possible. To be fair that was a deflected header that hit the back of Merino’s head but he had the presence of mind to steer it into goal. A wake up call maybe for if we play as badly as that against Burnley they will thrash us – make no mistake about that!

    • Wor Monga

      Give ower…nobody either comes off the field after winning a game or goes home after watching their team win a game unhappy with the way the game was played…

      …especially not if that team is one that’s just been promoted and hoping to pick up enough points to stay up…Palace were never going to be rolled over, and neither will we be at Burnley!!!

    • Malcolm Fisher

      Always somebody not satisfied. Of after a resolute performance like that,you have nothing encouraging and positive to say,shut the f**** up

  • TheFatController

    Proof that the basics of defending as a team and scoring from set pieces can make a huge difference to league points gained.

    No wonder pardew struggled !

  • Toonrobbybobson

    Might have been a lot of expectation on the team with it being Palace, sell out rocking St James Park and back after internationals that it was always going to be a damp squib.

    However winning when playing rubbish is sign of a good team.

    Also the manager is able to take so much pressure away from the players as people are under valuing them.

    • Wor Monga

      I agree…the secret to success is winning the games we consider to be ‘winnable’…but they’re always the ones the opposition will force us to come at them, and we don’t quite have the quality going forward at PL level to always carry that off…because they’ll defend and make themselves hard to beat, like we will do away or against the top clubs at home…

      …that’s life when everybody wants to stay where the money is…you get one chance and you take it whilst denying them the opportunity to do the same…not pretty to watch, perhaps…but that’s the way it is!!!

      • Toonrobbybobson

        I now get incredibly excited and feel satisfied with those type of results.

        We’ve had to go and still are through this phase but its what lays the foundations to become better in on a sustained basis. Rafa has done things the right way even on a budget. You can see it. Also the fans in general are becoming more patient and seeing the fruits of going about things in this way.

        But if you arent on song dont concede. It means those set pieces we used to be so awful at can be the decider and what do points make? Prizes! :)

  • Malcolm Fisher

    Not so long ago we would have capitulated and lost, been disheartened and down trodden. Now with Rafa, the belief he has given the team,the set up, we are no longer a rollover for any team. To play badly and win, shows great character and strength of mind,confidence and belief in your own ability. Well done the lads, and great support from the fans. Long may it continue. Thanks Rafa.