Rafa Benitez reacts to Newcastle's EIGHTH successive win

Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez

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Rafa Benitez hailed the "character" of his Newcastle United side after they recorded an eighth successive win.

First-half goals from Christian Atsu and Yoan Gouffran saw the Championship leaders beat Cardiff City 2-1 at St James's Park this afternoon.

Peter Whittingham set up a nervous finale with a 77th-minute strike for the visitors, who had a late penalty claim turned down.

Newcastle also felt there was a handball in the build-up to Whittingham's goal.

United manager Benitez said: "We started really well had chances to kill the game, but we gave them some hope and then they put in long throw-ins, long balls and free-kicks, and this is what Championship football is like and you to defend.

"They were complaining about some decisions and they were not happy. Watching the replay it is a handball, but we cannot change things.

"I was not happy we had to defend too much, but you have to defend and make sure you prepare the team for these things and we did it today.

"We have to show character and we did it."

The result stretched Newcastle's lead at the top of the Championship to six points ahead of this evening's game between second-placed Brighton and Hove Albion and Bristol City.