October 6, 2018 / 8:56 PM / in 15 days

Soccer-Keep calm and carry on, Benitez urges Newcastle after late defeat

MANCHESTER, Oct 6 (Reuters) - Newcastle United coach Rafa Benitez conceded that his side’s late 3-2 defeat by Manchester United in the Premier League on Saturday was difficult to take, but urged his players to continue the work that produced two early goals at Old Trafford.

Newcastle were 2-0 up after 10 minutes thanks to a smart finish by Kenedy and a close-range strike from summer signing Yoshinori Muto. It’s the first time the Tyneside outfit have taken the lead in a match all season.

However, the visitors were undone by late goals from Juan Mata, Anthony Martial and Alexis Sanchez to leave Newcastle second bottom of the standings and without a win after eight games of the campaign.

“It is difficult to take because we did so well. At 2-0 we had chances to score the third and we had control against a very good team,” Benitez told the BBC.

“When we conceded the first goal we started to have problems because they have so many good players that they could bring off the bench, and it is difficult to contain them.

“We have been solid in a lot of games, but we pushed forward well and created chances well, but the ones we didn’t take made the difference. We have to stay calm and be sure we continue working in this way, because we will win games if we play like that.”

Both Mata and Sanchez were substitutes brought on in either half, but both while United were still down 2-0.

Benitez pointed to their collective impact and also his players’ tiring legs as reasons for the match being turned on its head.

“In the second half when they made the substitutions you knew we would be suffering and we needed to be precise in the counter-attack,” the Spaniard told a news conference.

“We did well, we did what we wanted but still we missed this final pass and then as you try to push up it’s not easy. At the end when you are defending crosses against seven players that are so big, it’s not easy.

“And also, even then Alexis scored a goal from the air.”

Newcastle’s two points from eight games is now their worst start to a Premier League season.

They will need a positive result after the international break at home against Brighton & Hove Albion on Oct. 20 to avoid fears intensifying that they could suffer their second relegation in three years. (Reporting by Christian Radnedge Editing by Neil Robinson)

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