Rafael Benitez hails Newcastle work ethic in victory at Rotherham

Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez hailed his side’s hard-working display to see off Rotherham 1-0 and make it back-to-back victories.

Rotherham: Rafael Benitez hails Newcastle work ethic in victory at RotherhamRotherham: Rafael Benitez hails Newcastle work ethic in victory at Rotherham

A first-half solo strike from on-loan Chelsea winger Christian Atsu proved to be the difference between the two sides.

The Magpies go into the international break in second position in the Sky Bet Championship, three points behind Huddersfield, and Benitez praised his side’s workmanlike display that saw them beat rock-bottom Rotherham, who Benitez feels are better than their position in the table.

He said: “It was a great, great goal. We won against a good team. I said before that (Rotherham) don’t deserve to be where they are.

“They were pushing and pushing us and with that kind of play they will win games and be higher in the table.”

Newcastle only created a handful of chances in the second half to extend their lead with one goal proving to be enough.

“I enjoy winning, it doesn’t matter how,” added Benitez.

“To get three points is what you have to do. We can try to play nice football but sometimes it is not enough. The game plan was to work hard and do our best in terms of physicality and tempo and then after that use your quality. That is what we did.

“It is important to win before and after the internationals. Normally when you go away for a week or 10 days if you lose, it’s always worse.

“To win against Norwich and then win against Rotherham is massive and important for the confidence of the team.”

Rotherham manager Alan Stubbs felt midfielder Lee Frecklington was fouled in the build-up to the goal.

He said: “There is no doubt about it (the foul). If you look at the replay, it’s pretty obvious, there are two hands on ‘Frecks’ which makes him go to the floor.

“We have taken the game to Newcastle and, if I am being honest, it has been a pretty uncomfortable 90 minutes for them.”

Rotherham performed well in the game and hit the woodwork in each half through Jon Taylor and Dominic Ball’s deflected effort in the final five minutes.

Stubbs feels his side are improving.

He added: “We are certainly getting better. On Tuesday we could have taken a point and today one bit of quality has been the difference between the two teams.

“When you’re down there a little bit of luck deserts you but you have to make your own luck in this game. There were positives out of the display but not out of the result. For me it was a step in the right direction.

“If they keep performing like they have done in the last couple of games then it won’t be long until they start picking up points. I’ve got no doubts about that.”

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