Rafael Benitez was delighted to see Newcastle United finally receive reward for their efforts as they ended a nine-match winless run with a 3-2 victory at West Ham.
The Magpies emerged victorious from a pulsating encounter at London Stadium on Saturday, with Henri Saivet’s free-kick and a Mohamed Diame strike putting them 2-1 up after Marko Arnautovic had opened the scoring in the sixth minute.
Rob Elliot preserved the lead as he saved a controversial penalty from Andre Ayew, who set up a grandstand finish by partially atoning for that miss after Christian Atsu had made it 3-1.
Newcastle moved out of the bottom three, leapfrogging the Hammers by completing the double over them, and Benitez told a post-match media conference: “I said before it’s difficult when you have a bad run. But we deserved more in four or five of those games. It was important for us to win.
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) December 23, 2017
“It’s a great day for our fans, players, everyone. We have been working so hard and today the team was fighting for everything. Working so hard, hit the bar twice.”
On the spot-kick, which came after a foul from Ciaran Clark on Michail Antonio that appeared to have taken place outside the ara, Benitez added: “It was definitely outside. Sometimes when you are in a bad run, things go against you.
“We hit the bar, post, that penalty but it was saved. Thankfully we did well and we scored enough goals for the win.”
It is now back-to-back defeats for David Moyes’ side, who are a point above the drop zone in 17th, with West Ham’s recent upturn in form halted.
And the Scot accepted the result was fair, pointing to the absence of the banned Manuel Lanzini as key to their lacklustre showing
He told BBC Sport: “It was a game full of errors, we had them the whole game.
“We could not pull it together at all. We were huffing and puffing but could not pull together anything of note though the whole game.
“We did not pass well enough out from the back when we had the chance to and, when you are in the position we are in, you cannot afford to miss penalties. We have done that twice since I have been here.
“And then we have conceded a farcical third goal. It was glaringly obvious we missed Manuel Lanzini.
“Whatever the result is at this time of year, the turnaround is such that you have to roll on to the next game.”
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