Rafa Benitez blasts Newcastle players for 'terrible' first-half mistakes at Southampton

Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez

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Rafa Benitez has blasted his Newcastle United players for the "terrible" first-half performance which left the club even deeper in relegation trouble.

Benitez's side were beaten 3-1 by Southampton at the St Mary's Stadium this afternoon.

Newcastle conceded the first goal in the fourth minute – Shane Long walzed through the defence before beating Karl Darlow – and Graziano Pelle added another before the break after a slip from Daryl Janmaat let Dusan Tadic run towards goal.

United improved in the second half, but Victor Wanyama scored a third goal for Ronald Koeman's side.

Andros Townsend netted a consolation for Newcastle, who face Swansea City at St James's Park a week today needing a win to keep their faint hopes of survival alive.

"I'm really disappointed with the first half," said manager Benitez.

"We didn't show the character and quality and the composure that we have to show at this time.

"Everyone, starting with us, the staff, we have to do better.That is the only way. The first half was terrible.

"I could see we are making mistakes.

"We cannot start in this way. We cannot concede after three minutes."

Asked if he was "angry" at the half-time interval, Benitez said: "We have to be upset.

"And I was telling them that the performance of the first half was not acceptable, and we have to change and we have to change with the commitment, with the passion, with the character."