Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez praised his players for their “amazing” reaction to last weekend’s loss at Southampton after Saturday’s 3-0 win over Swansea City.
Relegation-threatened Newcastle produced a meek surrender in the 3-1 loss at St Mary’s Stadium seven days ago but were good value for the victory against Swansea, which pulled Benitez’s men within three points of fourth-bottom Norwich City.
Jamaal Lascelles broke the deadlock in the 40th minute and, after Swansea spurned some excellent chances, Newcastle sealed a first win as manager for Benitez on his 56th birthday with late strikes from Moussa Sissoko and Andros Townsend.
Next up for Newcastle is their game in hand on Norwich against Manchester City at St James’ Park on Tuesday before Benitez takes his team to Anfield to face former club Liverpool four days later.
“When you lose a game you know you have to be disappointed but after you are expecting a reaction,” Benitez told Sky Sports.
“The reaction of the players was amazing and the fans I think they recognised the effort and everything that they did so it’s quite positive for everyone and hopefully it can be the first win of a lot.”
Asked if Sunderland’s 3-0 win at Norwich earlier in the day had provided Newcastle with extra motivation, Benitez replied: “We were not thinking too much about this [Sunderland] game. We knew that we had to win and that’s it.
“Obviously we are now closer and we can still fight but the main thing was to play well, to win the game and to give our fans the belief and the hope that we can fight. We will fight until the end.
“I think you have to give credit to the 11 that started because they were working so hard but the players that came in from the bench were helping a lot. Papiss Cisse was doing a fantastic job up front and after [Aleksandar] Mitrovic was doing the same.
“That is what you expect when you are bringing players from the bench. We need everyone, if everyone can give a hand that will be much better for the team and for the fans.
“We said before that we have four home games, we have three now, and that is the way. If we can play at the same level with the same intensity, and the fans stay with the team, I think we have more chances to win more points and hopefully get the target.
“These three points have been massive for us, for me and for everyone here.”