Tuesday 24 April 2018

Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez pleased half-time team talk had desired effect

Rafael Benitez's Newcastle rallied after the break with two goals levelling things up for a vital point
Rafael Benitez's Newcastle rallied after the break with two goals levelling things up for a vital point

Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez did not quite evoke the spirit of Istanbul in his half-time team talk at Anfield but his instructions to his players certainly had an effect.

Trailing 2-0 to Liverpool after goals from Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana, the Magpies rallied after the break with Papiss Cisse and Jack Colback levelling things up for a vital point in their relegation battle.

Benitez is always reminded of the 2005 Champions League final - where Liverpool came back to win against AC Milan - from 3-0 down at the break - whenever the subject of his former club come up and he was asked what he said to his players at the break at Anfield.

"I have answered this question a lot of times," he said.

"We knew the first half was not the best and we needed to react so I told them similar to what I said in the past: 'Nothing to lose'.

"We had to fight and show more character and I think the players had a fantastic reaction.

"Liverpool were playing well and it was difficult to stop them.

"But this was different (to Istanbul). That was a final, one game, and now it is a race in which we have to keep going.

"Hopefully it will be the same and I will be really pleased.

"I am pleased with the point against a very good team and hopefully they (Liverpool) can do well in the Europa League.

"We have to do our job and see what happens with the other games but at least we showed character and the belief is still there, which is crucial for us."

Benitez's name was chanted by the Kop at kick-off and by both sets of fans at the final whistle.

"It is very emotional; the fans, the city and the club I have a very good relationship with Liverpool and my family still live here," he added.

"It was emotional because the Liverpool and Newcastle fans were singing my name. It was really pleasing."

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp was obviously not so satisfied as his team threw away a 2-0 lead.

"I think we did really well in the first half against a highly-motivated side," he said.

"I think they are happy with the point.

"The first half we were clearly the better team and in the second half also, apart from the two goals we conceded.

"Two shots on target, two goals sounds not too good and it is not too good."

Press Association

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