It was the first start for loanee Christian Atsu and he produced a magnificent goal after 41 minutes this afternoon that ultimately put Newcatsle 1-0 up just before half time and that was the difference between the sides at the New York Stadium this afternoon.
But Rafa was right about Rotherham United being a better team than their position in the league would indicate and they put on excellent performance against the Magpies for their fans today.
Rotherham were on the attack for the first half and their performance was really of a team much better than a bottom of the league side.
Christian Atsu Scores after 41 minutes
They gave Newcastle everything they could handle this afternoon – and it wasn’t a cricket score as one pundit had suggested.
Rafa did some reorganizing of the team in the first half to try to stop the home team form being constantly on the attack, but it seems that Rotherham were inspired to be playing a club as big as Newcastle and they attacked the visitors.
Then After 41 minutes a little bit of class from the Magpies put us one up when new boy Atsu who had been prominent for Newcastle in the first half cut inside after 41 minutes and hit a beautiful left-footed shot past Lee Camp in the Rotherham goal.
It was a great goal and the Magpies fans at the New York Stadium went delirious.
In the second half Rotherham hit the post, and Ciaran Clark made an interception on the goal line as the 26 year-old Irish International had another outstanding game for Newcastle.
And then as Newcastle were hanging on for a crucial 3 points Benitez brought on grant Hanley for the last several minutes to see out the win.
We hung on – just.
And this game is a real example of how tough the Championship really is and how we cannot take any game for granted – even against the bottom of the league team like Rotherham United – who were simply excellent today.
All credit to them.
But good teams find a way to win and this is another great 3 points for Newcastle.
Rotherham United: Camp; Fisher, Fry, Ball, Halford; Taylor, Adeyemi (Vaulks, 26), Frecklington, Newell (Blackstock, 73); Brown, Ward. Subs not used: Price, Forde, Forster-Caskey, Wood, Wilson.
Newcastle: Darlow; Anita, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett; Shelvey, Colback; Atsu (Ritchie, 66), Diame (Hanley, 87), Gouffran; Gayle (Mitrovic, 79). Subs not used: Sels, Hayden, Mbemba, Yedlin.
Goal: Atsu 41