Rafa Benitez’s return to Liverpool always comes with it’s own bit of narrative. As a manager that helped bring glory back to the team and then left when he couldn’t repeat it, there’s a certain amount of fondness for him. Even if we’ve been unable to beat him ever since he’s left. That spell ended on Saturday though as the Newcastle Magpies visited Anfield and Liverpool were finally, FINALLY, able to put two past them and have both goals go unanswered. Despite every effort by Newcastle.
“Three (shots) on target, I was surprised,” Benitez said following the match. “We wanted to be strong in defence and create more in counter attack. We couldn’t do it, why? Because we have a very good team in front of us.
“We got into some good positions and we were running full pace but still we couldn’t beat them. When you pay money you pay money not just because of their technical ability. It’s the quality, the decisions and the physicality. Everything that is the difference between teams.”
Newcastle were absolutely undone by goals from both Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, after a particularly frustrating first half that just barely had the Reds ahead at the break. It could’ve easily ended in a draw, like many other matchups before it, but Liverpool were able to hold onto their lead for the rest of the match. Benitez’s first loss to his former club didn’t come without their efforts, either.
“Today was just to make sure we had good control and then play counter attack,” Benitez continued. “We were not a real threat in the first haf but we were controlling the game so they didn’t have clear chances, just at the end a corner situation – nothing else.
“We were happy with that but we were still not very happy [overall] because we have to create more.”
A loss for Newcastle means they are now two points away from relegation, only a year since winning promotion from the Championship. Thankfully it didn’t turn into Liverpool’s typical Robin Hood situation and giving away our points to a team that needs them more. Even if it is Rafa.