This was the fourth time Rafa Benitez had faced Liverpool in the Premier League since leaving the club.
Saturday bringing his first defeat after three draws, though the Newcastle boss wasn’t too disheartened.
Rafa thought his players had done well in the first 40 minutes but that you have to recognise Liverpool’s pace and how ‘dangerous’ they are.
Mohamed Diame almost equalised on the stroke of half-time but that was really that in terms of chances, though Rafa Benitez claims that his team went for it in the second-half.
No criticism of his words but there was little evidence of any ‘going for it’, the substitutions were at best like for like with clearly no realistic hope of getting anything after the break.
We know the drill and it was damage limitation, especially after a second goal with 35 minutes still left to play.
Goal difference is looking ever more likely to play a part in the relegation fight and at the moment Newcastle are at least five goals better off than all clubs in the bottom eight, apart from Southampton who are one goal better off.
Only three points separate 13th to 19th and with only nine days to go, Rafa’s approach may well make the difference.
Nobody wants it to be as close as goal difference for Newcastle in the final stages but reality is that back in 2008/09 a draw on the final day at Villa, would have seen NUFC stay up on goal difference.
Rafa Benitez believes his team ‘are improving’, however the reality at this moment in time is ‘this team has to get points’.
Three points next Saturday would create some daylight between themselves and Southampton & others, plus improve the goal difference that little bit more…
Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez, also speaking to BBC Sport:
“We were playing against a dangerous team.
“We know that they have the pace up front.
“We managed to (defend well for) 40 minutes and then it was a mistake.
“We had to go for it in the second-half and were then more open.
“You have to keep the balance to be stronger in the defence and create chances in attack.
“We are learning…but we are still making mistakes against teams.
“We are improving but this team has to get points.
“Watching the reply (on whether Jamaal Lascelles should have been sent off at the end), it was not very clear – the referee maybe had the same opinion, that it wasn’t very clear.”
Stats from BBC Sport:
Liverpool 2 Newcastle 0
Liverpool: Salah 40, Sane 55
Possession was Liverpool 71% Newcastle 29%
Total shots were Liverpool 14 Newcastle 7
Shots on target were Liverpool 3 Newcastle 2
Corners were Liverpool 8 Newcastle 3
Referee: Graham Scott
Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummett, Murphy (Perez 84), Diame, Merino (Hayden 73), Kenedy, Atsu, Gayle (Joselu 66)
Darlow, Manquillo, Clark, Ritchie
Crowd: 53,287 (Newcastle 3,000)
(To read the match ratings for Newcastle players at Anfield go HERE )
(To read Alan Shearer’s instant reaction to the game HERE)
(Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Liverpool 2 Newcastle 0 – Read it HERE)
(Read what Jurgen Klopp had to say about the match HERE)