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Rafa Benitez: “If Lionel Messi was doing that everybody would be talking about the goal”

3 years ago

Rafa Benitez was left with thoughts of Lionel Messi after Newcastle United’s dramatic comeback on Saturday afternoon.

A shocker of an opening half from both the Newcastle players and the match officials, had the manager staring at what looked certain defeat.

However, changing his formation and tactics after the break, Rafa’s players responded.

So much so, that the Spaniard has talked of comparisons with Lionel Messi.

The goal that got Newcastle’s revival started, came in the 65th minute.

A ball up to Perez who headed it to Rondon, back to Perez and then the interplay ended with a lovely chipped pass from the former Tenerife striker and an arguably even better left foot volley finish from the West Brom loan striker.

Rafa Benitez moved to say ‘The link between Ayoze Perez and Salomon Rondon – if Lionel Messi was doing that everybody would be talking about the goal.’

Whilst there was a certain amount of finesse involved in the fightback, it was more about guts and determination.

After the Lionel Messi inspiration, it was maybe more of an Alan Shearer style refusing to be beaten, that got NUFC over the line.

A big well done to all involved.

Rafa Benitez:

“The link between Ayoze Perez and Salomon Rondon – if Lionel Messi was doing that everybody would be talking about the goal.

“Normally I say to the players, stay calm at half-time, score one goal and get back into the game.

“Maybe the referee was right, it wasn’t clear Pickford was trying to do that. Was it a yellow card? Maybe.

“We cannot change anything with that situation.

“The only thing is, we miss the penalty and concede a minute after….that is my problem.

“Today, you could see something I have been saying from day one.

“These players care, they work really hard, they fight for each other.

“And in a difficult game like this one, they stayed calm and kept pushing.

“That is what the fans are expecting from these players.

“As always, it’s the reaction of the players.

“At half-time, we were talking about staying calm, don’t concede another goal.

“I told them that if we scored one goal, we’d be back in the game, so we kept pushing, stopping them playing and creating chances.

“We don’t know [if Lascelles injury is serious].

“It seems to be that it was not very serious but he said he could not carry on, so we made the substitution.

“We had the four in the back, put another body in the middle.

“We were winning those second balls and, from that, creating more chances.”

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 3 Everton 2



Rondon 65, Perez, 81, 84


Calvert-Lewin 18, Richarlison 32

Possession was Everton 54% Newcastle 46%

Total shots were Everton 7 Newcastle 19

Shots on target were Everton 3 Newcastle 7

Corners were Everton 2 Newcastle 8

Referee: Lee Mason

Newcastle United:

Dubravka, Yedlin, Schar, Lascelles (Dummett 45), Lejeune, Ritchie (Kenedy 73),  Hayden, Ki (Shelvey 79), Almiron, Perez, Rondon

Unused Subs:

Darlow, Joselu, Diame, Manquillo

Crowd: 52,242 (Everton 3,000)

(Excellent match analysis from Matt Le Tissier – Read HERE)

(Alan Shearer perfect reaction to stunning Newcastle 3 Everton 2 comeback HERE)

(Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Newcastle 3 Everton 2 – HERE)

(Outrageous from Marco Silva as he blames match officials for Newcastle 3 Everton 2 – Read HERE)

(Just have a look at Jordan Pickford’s face after the final whistle – See HERE)


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