24 Feb Magpies have to wise up – and fast, admits boss Benitez
Rafael Benitez believes Newcastle need to quickly become more streetwise after a late collapse saw them squander a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at Bournemouth.
Dwight Gayle’s first-half double had the Magpies cruising towards a precious three points in the battle for Premier League survival.
But, after Jonjo Shelvey missed an open goal to make it 3-0, goals in the final 10 minutes from Adam Smith and former Newcastle player Dan Gosling denied them victory at the Vitality Stadium.
“We missed a chance, we concede a goal and then we lost the control that we had in (the opening) 70 minutes, so I think it’s important for us to learn quickly,” said manager Benitez.
“These kind of situations we have to manage in a better way and we would have been talking about a great game, three points and that’s it.
“But it’s something that can happen, especially in the Premier League when you make mistakes.
“We had a couple of chances to score the third goal and we made two mistakes and we conceded two goals and at the end they were pushing with corners and crosses, it was very difficult for us.
“I don’t think that we switched off, it’s just lack of concentration in a couple of situations that we could do better.”
Midfielder Shelvey looked certain to score when substitute Christian Atsu squared the ball to him with 11 minutes remaining.
He blazed over and moments later Smith halved the deficit before Gosling salvaged a point for the hosts a minute from time.
Asked how Shelvey was feeling, Benitez replied: “Everybody’s disappointed, especially him because he knows that was a good chance. It’s something that can happen.”
Bournemouth scored a last-minute goal to win 1-0 at St James’ Park in November.
And Gosling’s strike inflicted more late misery on the Magpies as the Cherries continued their knack of salvaging points in the latter stages of games.
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe praised his players’ resolve and felt it was vital they did not lose to another relegation rival, having been beaten 4-1 at Huddersfield last time out.
“I think my heart this season is being tested to the max, despite my age,” said Howe.
“I certainly feel it during the match – today was tough.
“We weren’t very good for 70 minutes, to be honest, but once again I have to praise the character, the attitude, the spirit of the team to come back because it’s not easy at this level to do that.
“And you really do need everyone to be focused, try and not sulk, not feel sorry for yourself before the game’s ended and credit to the players for doing that.
“It’s really encouraging that today we played a team in and around us and it’s really important you don’t get beaten by those teams and defeats to Huddersfield and Newcastle would have left us in a difficult position.
“It was a massive (final) 20 minutes for us and full credit to the players for delivering what they did.”