Rafa Benitez reacts to Matz Sels' performance in Newcastle's win at Ashton Gate

Matz Sels
Matz Sels
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Rafa Benitez has reacted to goalkeeper Matz Sels' performance in Newcastle United's win at Ashton Gate.

A first-half goal from Dwight Gayle gave Benitez's side a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Bristol City yesterday.

Newcastle had to defend for much of the second half.

And Sels, signed from Gent this summer, had an uncomfortable afternoon, with Lee Johnson's side having delivered a series of long balls and set-pieces into the box.

United manager Benitez backed Sels ahead of the Championship game.

The 24-year-old, starting ahead of Karl Darlow, is still adjusting to English football, and his performance was highlighted by Football On 5 last night.

Benitez, however, felt most goalkeepers would have struggled to deal with the deliveries into the box.

Asked about Sels' performance, Benitez said: "It is not easy. They had two or three players more than 1.90m.

"It is not easy if the crosses are good and there are a lot of bodies in the middle.

"I do not see too many keepers that are good in the air in England. I don’t see too many that can catch the ball with 10 players around.

"It is not easy. The best keeper in England was Pepe Reina and he was punching the ball.

"People were saying ‘you should catch the ball’, but he was punching it and controlling the box. It is difficult in England, particularly in the Championship – not just for him, but for everyone. You have to deal with that."

The clean sheet seventh-placed Newcastle kept at Ashton Gate was their first of the season.