Rafael Benitez grateful for ‘lucky’ win as Newcastle beat Crystal Palace

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez admitted that his side’s 1-0 win over Crystal Palace at St. James’ Park involved a bit of luck.

The two sides engaged in a cagey affair with Newcastle failing to register a shot on target in the first 76 minutes of the game. The match was headed towards a draw before Mikel Merino scored the winner in the 86th minute to give the Magpies an important win and secure three crucial points. This win has pushed Newcastle to sixth on the Premier League table.

“Sometimes you have a lot of chances and cannot score,” Benitez told Sky Sports. “Today was an even game, we were both well organised and in the end it was a good goal. The main thing is that we got three points.

“We needed to create something more. We couldn’t do it but in the end we score from a set-piece, and they can make the difference.

“In this case it was a little bit lucky, but Merino had the determination and that was key in the end.”

The narrow victory also handed Benitez’s side their third clean sheet of the season. With Palace threatening with Andros Townsend and Wilfried Zaha up front, the former Liverpool boss revealed that he had briefed his defenders on how to deal with the two forwards. Evidently, it worked as Palace failed to get a single shot on target.

“We knew that they had wingers up front with pace and ability, so we needed to make sure that we were not making mistakes,” Benitez said.

“There were a couple of situations where we were under pressure but overall the players were well organised and controlled the game.

Newcastle’s next league outing is against Burnley at Turf Moor at the end of this month.

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