Rafa Benitez reacts to the performances of Victor Fernandez and Nathan Harker for Newcastle in Spain

Rafa Benitez hailed Newcastle United's friendly against Royal Antwerp as a success.

Sunday, 18th March 2018, 1:39 pm
Updated Sunday, 18th March 2018, 1:45 pm
Victor Fernandez

The two clubs played out a 1-1 draw over three 45-minute periods at the Pinatar Arena in Spain this afternoon.

Matt Ritchie put Newcastle ahead with a chipped goal in the 40th minute, but Alexander Corryn levelled in the final period.

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Dwight Gayle had a late penalty saved in the game, which was arranged to fill a 21-day hole in the club's Premier League fixture list.

"I think it was fine," said United manager Benitez. "The idea was to have some minutes under their belts and be sure that it was competitive.

"Overall, positive. No injuries, so a lot of good things.

"I think some of them needed to play 90 minutes. A lot of them played 90 minutes, which was good. We will see if it will help them at the end of the season.

Victor Fernandez

"In terms of the training sessions, they were fine. In terms of the relationship between players and spending time together, it was also positive.

"There were a lot of positives in the game. You cannot expect everybody running full pace, but they were competing and doing well.

"There were some bad tackles at the end, which I didn't like too much, because it's always a risk."

Goalkeeper Nathan Harker and winger Victor Fernandez, called up from the club's Under-23 squad, came on for the last period.

Victor Fernandez

"I think they were fine," said Benitez. "Nathan was unlucky, because the first shot was a goal. It was quite difficult, bottom corner. After, he was fine (with his) distribution and good positions. I think it was a great experience for him.

"And Victor, because we were attacking a lot in the last 45 minutes. We were attacking his side and he was involved all the time. It was positive also for him."