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Opinion

Rafa Benitez master class makes his point

2 years ago
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Rafa Benitez faced up to Liverpool with another master class, with the reward of another point to United’s total.

Newcastle were neither afraid to attack, nor did they in any way shirk the defensive duties, testing Liverpool’s far superior team thoroughly, showing how much the squad has grown under Rafa Benitez.

A game that would have been a 4-0 or 5-0 loss under Steve McClaren or Pardew, was much closer than most could have imagined.

Liverpool stretched the defence with Mane and Salah, but Rafa had the defence sit a bit deeper to cope, and we were very rarely caught out of shape. All the players were told to contribute defensively, with even Joselu not ignoring his defensive duties from the front. It was obvious the team was very well drilled and organised.

However, despite this, Liverpool took the lead, and took it in some style. Liverpool’s goal was a beautiful strike by Coutinho, something that cannot be prepared for. He moved infield past Shelvey before rocketing one past Elliot.

Newcastle though, did not collapse, as they would have done under any other manager. Soon, Shelvey delivered a beautiful ball and Joselu should have slotted it through, but took long enough that Matip was back to tackle him. However, the ball bobbled off Matip, into Joselu and over the line, for one of the luckiest equalisers.

Play then got a bit less frenetic after half-time and eventually Joselu, who despite the goal, was not at his best, was taken off for Gayle.

Perez was another who had a very poor game, in truth, along with Clark.

Shelvey was at his imperious best though, contributing defensively while also pinging some beautiful balls. He also cleared one off the line that would have given Liverpool the lead near the end.

Hayden made a great last ditch block towards the end, while Elliot made a couple of good saves late on.

A very late effort by Diame was claimed easily by Mignolet, but overall Newcastle were composed, and were more than good enough for the point.

(Full match report to follow)

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 1 Liverpool 1

Goals:

Newcastle: Joselu 36

Liverpool: Coutinho 29

Possession was Liverpool 68% Newcastle 32%

Total shots were  Liverpool 17 Newcastle 8

Shots on target were Liverpool 2 Newcastle 5

Corners were  Liverpool 5 Newcastle 1

Referee: Craig Pawson

Newcastle United:

Elliot, Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Manquillo, Ritchie, Shelvey, Merino (Hayden 74), Atsu (Diame 90+1), Perez, Joselu (Gayle 79)

Unused Subs:

Darlow, Lejeune, Murphy, Gamez

Crowd: 52,303 (approx 3,000 Liverpool)

(Read instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Newcastle 1 Liverpool 1 HERE)

(Garth Crooks says Liverpool should have ‘smashed’ Newcastle. Read it HERE)

(Read Rafa’s post-match reaction HERE)

(Read Jurgen Klopp’s post-match reaction HERE)

(Danny Murphy pushes Jonjo Shelvey for England HERE)

(Read the fans player ratings of all Newcastle players HERE)

(Read Alan Shearer’s reaction to the match HERE)
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