Rafa Benitez coy on contract talks after Newcastle United's defeat to Crystal Palace

Rafa Benitez.
Rafa Benitez.

Rafa Benitez admitted that Newcastle United lost “control” against Crystal Palace.

A second-half penalty from Luka Milivojevic gave the visitors a 1-0 win at St James’s Park on Saturday.

The result left the club three points short of Benitez’s 38-point safety target.

Newcastle had failed to convert a number of first-half chances, and they lost momentum after the break.

The pre-match headlines had been dominated by Benitez’s revelation that he was “waiting for answers” from owner Mike Ashley after re-starting contract talks.

“We had control of an important game, and we could have got three points and we could be talking (about the contract), because we’re safe,” said Benitez. “But now we have to carry on and think every game is another final I don’t want to talk about my contract.”

Benitez felt his team should have been more “clinical”.

“I think we did enough to deserve three points,” said United’s manager.

“We had chances, and although we knew they would be dangerous on the counter-attack, we had the control of the game. We made a mistake, and we paid for that.”

The penalty was conceded by DeAndre Yedlin, who brought down Wilfried Zaha.

“We knew how dangerous Zaha is, and we were watching the clips of situations like that,” said Benitez.

“There were four defenders around, so we made a mistake. I will not say why they have had so many penalties.

“I cannot be disappointed with one mistake. I’m disappointed with too many things that we didn’t do well, especially after conceding the goal.

“During the game, we were attacking, but we could have been more clinical or made better decisions in the final third. But that is something that we have seen during the whole season. When we concede a goal, we have to manage the minutes after that much better.”

Asked if he wanted to get his contract sorted quietly, Benitez said: “That’s what we’re trying to do, but I don’t want to talk too much about that.”