Newcastle United fans have message for Rafa Benitez as Ayoze Perez nets again
Newcastle United fans implored Rafa Benitez to stay at the club this evening.
Benitez's side were held to a 1-1 draw by Brighton and Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium.
Ayoze Perez's first-half strike was cancelled out by Pascal Gross after the break.
Perez's strike, his fifth in three games, took his Premier League goal tally for the season to 11. The forward was forced off later in the half with a hip problem and replaced by Kenedy.
Benitez, out of contract in the summer, will have been frustrated to see his team lose their grip on a game they had commanded for 45 minutes.
Newcastle's manager also saw his side have two first-half penalty claims waved away by referee Mike Dean.
The result has left the club 13th in the division with two games to play.
United fans sang "Rafa Benitez, we want you to stay" in the first half and there was also a chant against owner Mike Ashley.
Benitez, Newcastle's manager, had made three changes, two of them enforced. Christian Atsu and Federico Fernandez replaced the unavailable Miguel Almiron and Jamaal Lascelles, while Jonjo Shelvey came in for Ki Sung-yueng, who dropped down to the bench.
Shelvey, making his first Premier League start in five months, was handed the captain's armband in the absence of Lascelles.
Brighton captain Bruno had talked of the need to get on the front foot in his programme column, but they went on to spent most of the first half firmly on the back foot.
Newcastle took the lead in the 18th minute and went on to dominate the half.
Perez took an early blow to the hip but played on, and the 25-year-old was there to hit a first-time shot into the net after Salomon Rondon chested a ball from Paul Dummett – who had ran unchecked towards the home box – into his path.
United had a penalty appeal waved away later in the half when Rondon went down under a challenge from Bruno.
Defender Fabian Schar also made a superb run into the box which was ended by Brighton goalkeeper Maty Ryan.
Perez was forced off in the 32nd minute – he was replaced by Kenedy – and Newcastle took their one-goal advantage into the break.
Brighton fans – some of whom at booed their team at the half-time whistle – tried to rouse their team in the second half. Hughton sent on one-time United trailist Solly March, but they were frustrated by Benitez's side.
Shane Duffy headed wide from a corner at the hour-mark, and Anthony Knockaert, once a target for Benitez at Newcastle, replaced Jose Izquierdo for the last 25 minutes.
Brighton levelled in teh 75th minute when United failed to deal with a ball in the box. Gross was able to head past Dubravka unchallenged to end the club's seven-game goal drought.
Glenn Murray should have done better with a point-blank header late in the match, and Brighton had to settle for point.
BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION: Ryan; Bruno, Duffy, Dunk, Bernardo; Gross, Stephens, Kayal (Bissouma, 48), Izquierdo (Knockaert, 65); Murray, Andone (March, 46). Subs not used: Button, Bong, Locadia, Burn
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Dubravka; Manquillo, Schar, Fernandez, Dummett, Ritchie; Perez (Kenedy, 32), Shelvey (Ki, 72), Hayden, Atsu (Muto, 79); Rondon. Subs not used: Darlow, Yedlin, Barreca, Diame.
Goals: Perez 18, Gross 75
Bookings: Andone 10, Dummett 26, Ritchie 45, Bissouma 78, Muto 83
Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)