Rafael Benitez feels Newcastle United can surge higher in the Premier League table after an impressive 3-0 win over Cardiff City moved them out of the bottom three.
Centre-back Fabian Schar was Saturday’s surprise hero with a double, his first two goals for the club, while Ayoze Perez wrapped up the points in stoppage time.
Newcastle had dropped into the relegation places last week after losing to Chelsea while other results went against them, but are now replaced by Cardiff in the drop zone.
It was an easy win for Benitez’s men, with Cardiff only mustering one shot on target, and the former Real Madrid boss wants to build on it.
“It’s good to be out of the bottom three,” he said at his post-match media conference.
“If we play like we did we will be further up the table. It was good. We won and scored four in the FA Cup, coming back here after three days, we went to extra time and you could see the players were exhausted at the end.
“We will have a lot of games against teams close to us and these are the key. We played well and the fans appreciated that and they stuck with us to the end.
“We scored three goals so everyone has to be happy. The main thing is the commitment of the players against a tough, physical team. It has been a very good week and everyone’s happy. We will try to carry on.”
Benitez had praise for Schar, who also helped Newcastle to a valuable clean sheet.
The Newcastle boss added: “Fabian has a lot of confidence in himself. He knows his ability.
“When he’s not playing he’s not happy but when he is playing he wants to show the quality he has. He’s helping a lot and has quality on the ball. It [his first] was a great goal.”
— Fabian Schär (@fabianschaer) January 19, 2019
Neil Warnock, meanwhile, felt his side were unfortunate and that the three-goal margin of victory was unjustified.
“I didn’t feel it was a 3-0 game and we were comfortable up to the goal,” he told reporters.
“It’s a disappointment for us. I felt in the first half it was there to be had. I thought they were nervous and we grew into the game.
“I couldn’t see them breaking through until the first goal which was poor from our point of view. We started the second half well and were dangerous and then conceded the second that killed us. We didn’t have anything drop for us and they were better than us in the final third.
“We were in the bottom three earlier and you cannot write our lads off. We’ve been there before. [Salomon] Rondon was the best player on the pitch and you get what you pay for.”
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