Newcastle boss Benitez: We had control of FA Cup tie until Chelsea's first goal

Rafa Benitez felt Newcastle United 'controlled' yesterday's FA Cup tie against Chelsea '“ until Michy Batshuayi's intervention.

Monday, 29th January 2018, 6:45 am
Rafa Benitez

Benitez’s side succumbed 3-0 to exit the competition in the fourth round at Stamford Bridge.

Batshuayi netted twice and former Sunderland loanee Marcus Alonso also found the net.

However, Newcastle had the better chances up to Batshuayi’s 31st-minute opening goal.

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And Magpie manager Benitez felt his team was unlucky to concede a second goal before the end of the first half, with Batshuayi’s shot having cannoned off captain Jamaal Lascelles and into the net.

Chelsea were dominant in the second half, and Marcus Alonso scored with a fine free-kick to kill off the visitors.

Asked if it was a fair result, Benitez said: “No, I don’t think so. I think, during that first half, that we did really well – we had chances and we were on top of them.

“For me, we were controlling the game, and then we made a mistake on a counter-attack. We were unlucky with the second counter-attack at the end of the second half too.

“Then, obviously, 2-0 down against a good team ... they were much better because we were much more open and more exposed.”

Benitez felt Chelsea’s quality told over the course of the afternoon.

“When you have to play against Chelsea away, normally you know that (because of) the difference between the top six and the other teams, it’s really, really difficult,” said Benitez.

“We tried. We played really, really well in the first half in my opinion, trying to do what we needed to do to put them under pressure, then afterwards the difference in quality in some situations was key.”

Benitez made five changes to his team, with one eye on the home Premier League clash with Burnley on Wednesday.

He said: “The team selection was trying to allow us to stay in the competition, and the way that we played in the first half, you can see that we wanted to stay in the competition. But you have to accept the difference between teams.”

Meanwhile, Blues boss Antonio Conte said: “It was a good performance. It wasn’t easy, because Newcastle prepared a very defensive game with the width of players on the edge of their box and with deep midfielders and two strikers to mark our central midfielders.”

Chelsea: Caballero, Rudiger, Christensen, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Kante (Ampadu 78), Alonso, Pedro (Hudson-Odoi 81), Hazard (Barkley 73), Batshuayi. Subs not used: Fabregas, Moses, Musonda, Eduardo. Goals: Batshuayi 31, 44, Alonso 72

Newcastle: Darlow, Manquillo (Murphy 77), Mbemba, Lascelles, Clark, Haidara, Hayden (Atsu 83), Saivet, Shelvey, Ritchie, Gayle (Joselu 64). Subs not used: Dummett, Diame, Yedlin, Woodman. Booked: Mbemba. Att: 41,049