Rafael Benitez downplayed the severity of Tottenham’s injury crisis after Newcastle United slipped to a 1-0 defeat to Mauricio Pochettino’s men despite the absences of Harry Kane and Dele Alli.
Son Heung-min’s low drive in the 83rd minute found a route under Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka to clinch a narrow win from a game in which Spurs were frustrated for long periods.
Injuries left Newcastle without Ki Sung-yueng, Jonjo Shelvey, Paul Dummett and Mohamed Diame for the trip to Wembley, and Benitez gave a nod to the problems in his squad while backing Spurs to cope without sidelined pair Kane and Alli.
“You have to give credit to Tottenham,” Benitez told Sky Sports.
“I have to laugh a bit when they say they lose players to injuries because of the quality of the players they have to come in.
FULL-TIME: Tottenham Hotspur 1 Newcastle United 0
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) February 2, 2019
“When you have competition [for places], it’s always possible for the team.”
Assessing his side’s performance, he added: “We did well for a while in the first half. We had chances and then they were pushing. We were defending well.
“The problem for us is to concede this type of goal. Give credit to Son, the shot was good.
“We could do better but it’s not just one mistake we have to analyse – it’s overall. Another week we could have won it.”
Benitez was left optimistic despite the result, saying the signings of Miguel Almiron and Antonio Barreca during the January transfer window will boost Newcastle’s chances of a strong finish to the season.
The Magpies beat Cardiff City and Manchester City in back-to-back Premier League games before the defeat at Spurs and will hope to get back to winning ways when they face Wolves away on February 11.
“To bring new faces and the characteristics of these players will be positive for the future,” said Benitez.
“We have to keep working and improve with the same kind of performance and mentality.
“It’s not easy to keep the intensity and the tempo when players are playing three or four games in a row.”
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