Newcastle Utd 1 Leeds Utd 1: Rafa Benitez rues loss of stoppage-time equaliser in Championship crunch

Jamaal Lascelles celebrates putting Newcastle ahead. Picture by Frank Reid
Jamaal Lascelles celebrates putting Newcastle ahead. Picture by Frank Reid

Rafa Benitez hit out after Newcastle United were denied a win by a stoppage-time goal.

A 95th-minute goal from Chris Wood saw Leeds United claim a point from a 1-1 draw at St James’s Park last night.

Wood’s strike cancelled out a goal from Jamaal Lascelles earlier in the half. The result left second-placed Newcastle trailing Championship leaders Brighton by four points.

Benitez’s side, however, are eight points ahead of Huddersfield Town, in third place, though the Terriers have a game in hand.

Newcastle’s manager was unhappy with the five minutes added on by referee Christopher Kavanagh, who had stop play after a Leeds supporter ran on to the pitch from the home end to shake the hands of the visiting players.

Benitez was also frustrated at his team’s defending for Wood’s late goal. “I am pleased with the performance of the team, the commitment, the passion, the way we played the chances we had,” said Benitez.

“I am disappointed with the mistake at the end, I say at the end in 95th minute. Today was 95 minutes!

“It was very difficult for me to understand that. I don’t understand a lot of things in the last few games.

“Why did we have a penalty that took seven minutes and we only got three minutes at the end (against Wigan Athletic). This was 95 minutes. I don’t understand a lot of things in the last few games.

“We have to be proud of the players, but disappointed not to get the three points. We have to try to be ready for the next game (at Ipswich on Monday).”

Asked about the pitch invader, Benitez added: “I will not talk too much about that. I’m not very happy with things that were going on.

“That’s it. You could see today another game with strange things. We try to focus on our team. We are a top side and we try our best on the pitch and we try to be correct all the time.”

Benitez said he was “proud” of his team’s performance against fourth-placed Leeds, who spent much of the game on the back foot.

“The way we were playing I was really pleased and proud,” said Benitez. “I will say again, if you analyse the last games, my understanding of the rules have changed a little bit. Everything.”

Kavanagh failed to award a penalty after Luke Ayling brought Chancel Mbemba down in the box in the second half.

Benitez has challenged his team to replicate the performance when they take on Ipswich Town at Portman Road on Easter Monday.

“If we play in the same way that we did, we can win any game,” said Benitez. “But we have to keep this intensity, this good play and hopefully things will be different.”

Newcastle, after recovering from a slow start, went on to dominate the game.

And Leeds keeper Robert Green kept his side in the game with a series of saves.

“We created enough chances to win the game,” said Benitez, who celebrates his 57th birthday tomorrow.

“The keeperwas man of the match. That has been something that we have seen a lot of times here and it’s part of football. But with all the effort and the good play that we showed, it’s a pity that we got just the one point.”

Benitez added: “I’m not down, I’m just so upset because there are so many games where I have seen things that I don’t understand.”