Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez hails spirit in fightback draw

Rafa Benitez hailed the 'character' of his Newcastle United players after they came from behind to end a four-game losing run.

Wednesday, 29th November 2017, 6:26 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 2:30 am
Florian Lejeune celebrates Newcastle's equaliser.

Benitez’s side came from two goals down to draw with West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns last night.

The result lifted the club up to 12th place in the Premier League table.

Stand-in captain Ciaran Clark started the fightback with a header from a Matt Ritchie corner.

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And Salomon Rondon diverted a Ritchie free-kick onto Jonny Evans and past Ben Foster for Newcastle’s equaliser.

Asked how important it was to end the losing run, United manager Benitez said: “I think that we didn’t deserve to lose the four games, but that is something that you cannot change.

“With this bad run, reacting the way that we were reacting and showing the character that we did shows something very, very positive for the future.”

Benitez, however, was still frustrated that his team conceded two goals.

Benitez added: “I’m disappointed and pleased at the same time. Disappointed, because I think that we did quite well in the first half. I think that we had the game under control and then we conceded another late goal.

“We were talking about that and how we needed to learn from the mistakes of the past and focus in the last minutes.

“The second goal was even worse in terms of the feeling and the mistake, not because the mistake was bad it’s just because it was the second goal. But the reaction of the team was really good. We could have won the game because we were in control, but it was a question of time.

“There was not enough time to get the third goal.”

Alan Pardew is expected to be appointed the Baggies’ new boss after they sacked Tony Pulis and he is due to inherit a side two points above the Premier League relegation zone.

The game was dull initially and it took until the 19th minute for either side to threaten and when Newcastle did Ahmed Hegazi and Ben Foster almost gifted them a goal, defender Hegazi heading the ball away from a scrambling Foster.

There had been little threat from the Baggies but, just over a minute later, Rondon’s ambitious dipping effort from 30 yards clipped the top of Karl Darlow’s bar.

Darlow then claimed Robson-Kanu’s weak header before Albion’s Wales international prodded wide under pressure.

They were warnings Newcastle failed to heed as, in first-half stoppage time, the hosts went ahead when Kieran Gibbs picked out Robson-Kanu at the far post to head in from two yards.

The opener sparked the game to life and Albion doubled their lead 11 minutes after the restart.

Matt Phillips was given time to cross from the right and found the onrushing and unmarked Field to volley in his first senior goal from six yards.

Yet Albion’s two-goal lead lasted just three minutes as Clark crashed in a far-post header from Matt Ritchie’s corner.

Robson-Kanu shot straight at Darlow soon after but Newcastle earned a point with seven minutes left when Ritchie’s driven free-kick struck Evans and beat Foster.

West Brom: Foster, Nyom, Hegazi, Evans, Gibbs (McClean 80), Phillips, Livermore, Barry (Yacob 67), Field (Krychowiak 84), Robson-Kanu, Rondon. Subs Not Used: Myhill, Burke, Rodriguez, McAuley. Goals: Robson-Kanu 45, Field 56.

Newcastle: Darlow, Yedlin, Lejeune, Clark, Mbemba, Hayden (Shelvey 80), Merino, Ritchie, Perez , Murphy (Aarons 64), Joselu (Mitrovic 73). Subs Not Used: Elliot, Gayle, Diame, Manquillo. Goals: Clark 59, Evans 83 og.

Att: 25,534 Ref: Lee Probert.