Rafa Benitez answers questions on Mike Ashley's appearance for Newcastle's defeat to Chelsea

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Rafa Benitez didn't speak to Mike Ashley at Stamford Bridge.

Ashley – who is yet to sanction any signings in this month's transfer window – watched Newcastle United's 2-1 defeat to Chelsea this evening.

However, the club's owner didn't seek out Benitez before or after the defeat, which has left the team 18th in the Premier League ahead of next weekend's home game against Cardiff City.

Asked about Ashley's appearance at the game, United manager Benitez said “I was talking with (managing director) Lee Charnley before the game.

"I haven’t seen Mike afterwards, but I knew he was here."

Ciaran Clark cancelled out Pedro's early opener before the break.

However, Willian claimed all three points for Maurizio Sarri's side with a second-half goal.

“What I can see is that we have to stay calm," said Benitez. "It's a long-distance race, and still we have to win more games.

"I have confidence that if we continue working like today, we will have chances to get points against teams that will be closer to us. That's it.

"We have to be better than three teams. If we play like today, we will do it.

“Optimistic about the team? Yes. Optimistic about the other things (transfers)? I don’t talk about the other things.

"Everything was fine, apart from that in the end Willian made the difference for the second goal."