Newcastle this season under Rafa Benitez have learned how to defend and that in certain parts of the game we will be under severe pressure from the opposition.
That’s when some good defending and grit are needed so the team doesn’t give away a goal and lets the other side right back into the game, as we did too many times last season.
Newcastle showed that grit and determination yesterday in the second half as we hung onto a 2-1 lead at Burton Albion with goals from Dwight Gayle and Mo Diame and held on to get another win and a valuable 3 points towards our promotion drive.
Nigel Clough and Rafa Benitez before the game
Rafa expected this game to be a difficult one and it was, but he was pleased at the end that Newcastle had done what winning teams do and refused to fold under the pressure of a good Burton Albion side:
“We said before that it could be difficult and it was so I think we did well.”
“We controlled the first half and were working so hard in the second half to defend and do well.”
“I was pleased with the attitude, the teamwork and the character we showed, but I also congratulate Burton because they were pushing us under massive pressure.
“We are top of the table, doing well and winning lots of games and we have had fantastic games and then we have games where we have to show, as we did today, lots of character.”
“We did it, I think we are finding the balance between playing nice football and having to work hard for the three points.”
“That is what a winning team has to do – to adapt and perform at the maximum level in any conditions.”
Brighton won again coming from 1-0 down at St Andrew’s to grab goals in the 82nd and 95th minutes to beat Birmingham City and stay one point behind us in second place.