Rafa Benitez reacts after Newcastle ‘risk’ everything – and get their rewards

Mo Diame celebrates with Daryl Murphy after his lucky goal
Mo Diame celebrates with Daryl Murphy after his lucky goal

Rafa Benitez hailed his Newcastle United side after they “risked” everything – and returned to the top of the Championship.

Benitez’s side came from behind last night to beat Brighton 2-1.

We created a lot of good situations before Diame, who was lucky.

And the result saw them go two points clear of the table ahead of Saturday’s game against third-placed Huddersfield Town.

Newcastle, trailing to a controversial first-half penalty, looked to be heading for a defeat at the Amex Stadium.

But Mohamed Diame and Ayoze Perez scored in the last 10 minutes to claim all three points for United.

“It was difficult,” said United manager Benitez.

“When you play against a good team, with the advantage of the goal from the penalty, which was not, it’s always more difficult.

“A of things were against us, but the reaction of the team was good.

“There was a risk of being caught on the counter, but we created chances and we have to be pleased with the teamwork.”

Ciaran Clark was penalised for pulling down Glenn Murray, who stepped up to convert the resulting penalty to give the home side a 14th-minute lead

“Watching the replay, you cannot give a penalty in this kind of game from that kind of situation,” said Benitez.

“We have had two penalties this season, as the division’s most offensive team.”

Diame diverted a shot from Christian Atsu past David Stockdale in the 81st minute.

And Ayoze Perez claimed all three points with an 89th-minute goal.

“We created a lot of good situations before Diame, who was lucky,” said Benitez.

“The winning goal was calm and composure of Ayoze. We had to change a bit to be more dangerous, but I’m really pleased with the players’ reaction, the way they understood how we had to be playing.

“We had to take a risk, playing between the lines.”

Asked if it was a “big moment” in the club’s promotion challenge, Benitez added: “It’s good to get three points, away, on this pitch against a very good team.

“Still I have the same feeling – April will be crucial.”