Rafa Benitez believes performances are currently more important than league position after Newcastle threw away two points at Bournemouth.
The Magpies were on course to climb to 11th in the Premier League table after Dwight Gayle’s first-half double gave them a deserved 2-0 lead at the Vitality Stadium.
However, a late collapse saw them concede twice in the final 10 minutes to leave them in 15th place, just two points above the relegation zone.
Rafa Benitez believes performances are currently more important than league position
Newcastle threw away two points at Bournemouth, Dwight Gayle having put them 2-0 ahead
A late collapse saw them concede twice in the final 10 minutes to leave them in 15th place
Newcastle’s display on the south coast – which followed a surprise victory over Manchester United – was largely positive and manager Benitez feels his players are showing they have the ability to avoid an immediate return to the Championship.
‘The main thing for me is not just where you are in the table,’ said the Spaniard. ‘You have to realise where you are but it’s to be sure that the team continue fighting, playing well and with the belief that we can win, that we can get points anywhere.
‘If you talk about the last games, the team was doing well, really well. We can make mistakes because at the end we’re talking about the Premier League.
‘The team has confidence in terms of a lot of the things we have done well and we have to be sure that next time we are positive and try to do things in the same way and avoid these mistakes and find solutions to these problems that we have had in the last minutes.’
Benitez’s side had opportunities to kill off their opponents, with Jonjo Shelvey blazing over
The Magpies appeared to be cruising towards success in Dorset as Bournemouth struggled to respond to Gayle’s first goals since December.
Benitez’s side had excellent opportunities to kill off their opponents at 2-0, with Ayoze Perez firing over from close range and Jonjo Shelvey blazing over with the goal gaping.
Shelvey’s shocking miss came moments before Cherries substitute Adam Smith halved the deficit and ex-Newcastle midfielder Dan Gosling ensured his former side would pay for their profligacy by levelling a minute from time.
Bournemouth keeper Asmir Begovic was at fault for second, but was defended by Eddie Howe
Bournemouth goalkeeper Asmir Begovic was at fault for Gayle’s second – allowing a cross from Perez to squirm under his body – and perhaps should have done better with the opener.
Cherries manager Eddie Howe refused to blame his Bosnian keeper and backed him to bounce back from the errors.
‘I’m going to protect Asmir, he’s an outstanding goalkeeper and he’s had a really good season for us,’ said Howe.
‘The life of a goalkeeper is a difficult one, any mistake you make is highlighted, but he’s been good for us this season so I’ll back him to recover from that.’