NEWCASTLE, England, April 14 (Reuters) – Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez was left fuming at the referee after his side conceded an equaliser late into stoppage time as they were held 1-1 by Leeds United in the Championship on Friday.
“I’m not down, I am just so upset, because there have been so many games where I see things I don’t understand,” said the former Liverpool and Real Madrid manager, referring to the decision to add on five minutes at the end of the game.
“I am pleased with the performance of the team, the commitment, the passion, the effort but I am disappointed because we make a mistake at the end. At the end I mean 95 minutes,” he said after Leeds striker Chris Wood grabbed the late equaliser.
“I don’t understand a lot of things from the last few games but we have to be proud of the effort.
“If you analyse the last games, my understanding of the rules has changed a little bit,” he said.
Despite the setback, Newcastle remain well-placed for automatic promotion straight back to the Premier League after being relegated last season.
The Magpies are eight points clear of their closest challenger, third-placed Huddersfield Town, with four games remaining although leaders Brighton have now moved four points clear at the top.
“We have to keep winning our games and that’s it. The priority is to go up and we have to win games if we want to do that,” said the Spaniard.
Leeds remain in contention to join Newcastle back in the top flight next season after a 13-year absence, if they can fight their way into and through the playoffs, and their manager Garry Monk was delighted with his team’s spirit.
“We showed what a spirit we have, the determination not to give up until the end and that is what brought the goal. We got the point that we are happy with but I am really proud of the players, they never gave up,” he said.
“What an amazing mentality they have created…we have played better but you need both. You need the mentality, the spirit but also the quality and we were able to show that quality in that single moment, which was important and sometimes that is all that takes,” he added. (Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Toby Davis)