Rafa Benitez explains his tactical change at Newcastle – and reacts to THAT Matt Ritchie miss

Matt Ritchie.
Matt Ritchie.

Matt Ritchie “couldn’t believe” he missed an open goal in Newcastle United’s 2-1 win over Burnley, according to Rafa Benitez.

Ritchie somehow put the ball wide after DeAndre Yedlin delivered a low cross to him at the far post at Turf Moor last night.

Benitez and Ritchie were able to laugh about the miss after the victory, which lifted the club up to 13th in the Premier League table.

“I need to see the replay,” said Benitez, who fielded Ritchie was a wing back.

“We were laughing about it when we came off the pitch, because he cannot believe what happened.

“I will have to check, but in the end we won and he did a great job. He missed the chance, but he was playing in a position that is not his position and he did a great job. I have to congratulate everyone.”

Benitez, again without captain Jamaal Lascelles, fielded three centre-halves.

“We knew it could be a game like that, and the three centre-halves did a great job,” said United’s manager.

“I will keep to myself whether I would have done it anyway (had Paul Dummett not been injured), but it was clear that we needed to deal with their two centre-forwards, and to do that, we needed to change something.

“I thought the players did really well.”

Newcastle have won their last three games.

“We knew that playing five teams out of the top six could be very difficult, so we needed to manage things well,” said Benitez. “We couldn’t get results, but we managed things well to stay in the games.

“After that, I said that playing against teams that are closer to us in terms of quality, we could do well and get points. That is the case now.

“We can compete with them and get these points.”