Why Rafa Benitez was happy to see Aleksandar Mitrovic wrestle Dwight Gayle

Aleksandar Mitrovic. Picture by Frank Reid
Aleksandar Mitrovic. Picture by Frank Reid

Rafa Benitez says he was happy to see Aleksandar Mitrovic wrestle Dwight Gayle on the field – as it told him he’s happy at Newcastle United.

Mitrovic grabbed Gayle after he scored a dramatic 96th-minute winner against Norwich City on Wednesday night.

After the club’s 4-3 win, Gayle joked that Mitrovic – who had come off the bench – had tried to “headbutt” him in celebration of the victory, which saw Newcastle go third in the Championship.

Mitrovic also hoisted up Benitez after the final whistle.

United manager Benitez felt Mitrovic’s joy told him that he was content at St James’s Park – despite a lack of starts so far this season.

Asked about the celebration, Benitez said: “For me, it was really positive.

“It was really good.

“Even players like Mitro, who was not playing, congratulates Gayle and myself. I think it’s positive.”

Videos and photographs of Mitrovic grabbing Gayle and Benitez went viral on social media.

Benitez added: “Some people did silly interpretations!

“I saw the pictures with Gayle and me.

“You have players like him who are not playing, but they can still be so passionate.

“It is positive that you can get that from a player who is not playing. We need to control that effort and commitment in the right way.”

Meanwhile, Newcastle’s Under-23s were held to a goalless draw by Swansea City in a Premier League Cup tie at Whitley Park yesterday.

Danish striker Elias Sorensen made his first appearance for the club at Under-23 level in the game. The 16-year-old joined United from HB Koge this summer.

Coach Peter Beardsley said: “He never stopped working. He’s got a chance for the future.”