Rafa Benitez explains his decision to start Yoan Gouffran up front

Rafa Benitez
Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez has revealed why he handed Yoan Gouffran a start up front against Brighton and Hove Albion.

The forward led the line for Newcastle United at the Amex Stadium last night.

Gouffran, predominantly used out wide by Benitez, was preferred up front to Aleksandar Mitrovic and Daryl Murphy.

Benitez, without 20-goal leading scorer Dwight Gayle, wanted a player that could get in behind Chris Hughton's team.

Asked why he fielded Gouffran as a lone striker, Benitez said: “We needed to run behind them.

"They are strong defensively, the centre-backs, but they have some problems behind.”

Gouffran was withdrawn by Benitez after Mohamed Diame cancelled out Glenn Murray's controversial first-half penalty.

And substitute Ayoze Perez went on to score a dramatic 89th-minute winner for United, who now lead the Championship by two points.

Reflecting on the result, Benitez said: “It was difficult. When you play against a good team, with the advantage of the goal from the penalty, which was not, it's always more difficult.

"A of things were against us, but the reaction of the team was good.

"There was a risk of being caught on the counter, but we created chances and we have to be pleased with the teamwork.”