Sarri shocked by Benitez's negative Newcastle

AFP
Maurizio Sarri joined the chorus of disapproval for the negative tactics employed by Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez as Chelsea won 2-1 at St James' Park on Sunday.
AFP

Maurizio Sarri joined the chorus of disapproval for the negative tactics employed by Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez as Chelsea won 2-1 at St James’ Park on Sunday.

Sarri said he was stunned by the Benitez’s defensive approach as Newcastle put nine men behind the ball and played with one striker, despite being the home side.

“We knew that it would be a difficult game for us, and every team that comes here,” said Sarri, who arrived at Chelsea in the summer after leaving a job at Napoli where he had succeeded Benitez. “But it has been more difficult because in Italy I never saw Rafa play with five defenders at the back. It meant we needed to move the ball fast.”

Others were even more scathing of Benitez after Newcastle enjoyed less than 20 percent of the possession.

Former Liverpool star Jamie Redknapp, said, “I don’t buy into those tactics. If you’re going to Manchester City, against the champions, by all means. But not at home. The possession stats are embarrassing.

“If you’re a Newcastle player in that dressing room, you’re embarrassed because you know you can play more.”

Ex-Newcastle boss Graeme Souness, said, “If I was a player in that team, I would rather have been beaten 3-0 having a go, than losing like that.”

Benitez almost had the last laugh because Newcastle was on the verge of taking a point from the game. It held out until the 76th minute when Eden Hazard scored from the spot after Marcos Alonso was brought down by Fabian Schar.

Benitez was not happy about the decision, but Alonso said, “I think I touched the ball and got in front of the opponent. It’s not that I felt the contact and went down, he made me.”

Newcastle equalized in the 83rd minute when Joselu headed in a cross from DeAndre Yedlin, who appeared to elbow Olivier Giroud in the build-up.

Yedlin was to be involved again four minutes later when he diverted Alonso’s shot into his own goal to seal Chelsea’s third successive victory.

“Everyone was thinking of a draw when they scored but we are Chelsea and we never give up,” Hazard said. “We did well, created a lot of chances and we deserved to win. I feel tired tonight, but the whole team is tired but we have the points.”

Chelsea is now second in the table, level on points with Liverpool and Watford, but Sarri isn’t getting carried away by his flawless start.

“It means nothing. The season is about 38 games, but it is important to start as well as possible. Now, though, the table is not important,” Sarri said.

Newcastle, however, has just one point from its three games, yet Benitez remains optimistic and refused to apologize for his game approach.

“You have to do what you have to do. That’s it,” he said.

Former Newcastle striker Aleksandar Mitrovic inspired Fulham’s first Premier League success this season as the Serb’s double secured a 4-2 win over Burnley on Sunday.

Mitrovic fired Fulham to promotion from the Championship with 12 goals on loan from the Magpies last term.

Jeff Hendrick had cancelled out a stunning goal from Ivory Coast midfielder Jean Michael Seri when Mitrovic struck with two headers in two minutes.

James Tarkowski pulled one back for Burnley, but Andre Schurrle’s late strike ensured Fulham victory.

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