Rafael Benitez is happy to see Yoan Gouffran reaping the rewards of his hard work after he helped to fire Newcastle into the last 16 in the EFL Cup.
The Frenchman’s sumptuous volley, his second stunning goal of the season, sealed a 2-0 third-round win over Wolves at St James’ Park as the Magpies gained revenge for Saturday’s Sky Bet Championship defeat by the same score by the same opposition.
Gouffran looked certain to leave Tyneside during the summer after failing to win a regular place in the starting line-up, but has won over his critics to make himself a key member of Benitez’s squad.
The Spaniard said: “I was happy with him during pre-season. I was expecting some offers for him – we had one that was not good enough and after, I was expecting maybe no-one would come and I would be happy, so that was the situation.
“We were watching him closely and he was training really well and the staff, we were talking about it could be better to keep him, and that’s it.
“I am really pleased because when you have someone working so hard, he deserves some luck sometimes.
“He didn’t know what would happen in the future, but still he was working hard, so I am really pleased for him and he is scoring great goals now and especially from volleys, so that is good.”
Matt Ritchie had fired the home side into a 29th-minute lead after Jed Wallace had passed up an opportunity to do the same at the other end, and Gouffran’s superb strike two minutes later gave his side breathing space and effectively killed off the tie.
If Benitez was delighted with the quality of the Magpies’ goals, opposite number Walter Zenga was less than impressed with his side’s contribution to them.
He said: “We made a big gift in one minute and the game was over in that one minute because of our two mistakes in defensive situations. When you make some gifts in this way, it’s difficult then to come back into the game.
“Before they scored the goals, we had one great chance, unbelievable, one v one with the keeper and we missed and then in the second half, we would have had something to open up the game.
“But unfortunately, we didn’t score and the game was in the hands of the home team.”