Rafa Benitez's verdict on Aleksandar Mitrovic's performance in Newcastle's FA Cup defeat

Rafa Benitez has spoken about Aleksandar Mitrovic's performance in Newcastle United's FA Cup defeat.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 29 January, 2017, 06:44
Aleksandar Mitrovic

Oxford United beat Rafa Benitez's weakened side 3-0 yesterday at the Kassam Stadium.

Mitrovic, back from injury, played the full 90 minutes of the fourth-round tie.

The striker had two first-half chances saved, and the 22-year-old was also denied from the penalty spot after the break when Newcastle trailed 1-0.

A lethargic-looking Mitrovic, short of match fitness after his lay-off for a gashed leg, had come under fire from some fans after the game.

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United manager Benitez said: “I wasn’t thinking about playing Mitro for 90 minutes, because he missed training for about 10 days.

"But he was fine, and I wanted to give him some minutes, because he missed the chances in the first half and because he missed the penalty, I was asking him all the time if he was fine, but I preferred to keep him on the pitch for 90 minutes.

"He was not lucky when he had the chances, but he was working and at least he has 90 minutes under his belt now, and he can be ready for the next games."

Benitez also confirmed that Mitrovic was the team's designated penalty-taker with Matt Ritchie on the bench.