Sergio Aguero’s 100th Premier League goal put Champions League semi-finalists City ahead early on but Vurnon Anita scored his first goal for more than two years to earn a deserved share of the spoils for the relegation-threatened Tynesiders.
Newcastle missed a chance to climb out of the bottom three and remain second-bottom, two points from safety going into their last four games.
“With this kind of fight, you have to be optimistic for the remaining games,” the Spaniard insisted after Newcastle ended a 12-game losing streak against the former Premier League champions.
Benitez has won one of his six games in charge and said: “It could have been an better result but it could have been worse. You’re playing against a Champions League semi-finalist and before the game I wanted three points, but after we went behind perhaps a draw isn’t too bad.