Rafa Benitez reacts to Jamaal Lascelles’ performance for Newcastle – at both ends of the pitch

Newcastle's Ayoze Perez celebrates the late equaliser
Newcastle's Ayoze Perez celebrates the late equaliser

Rafa Benitez hailed the “character” of his Newcastle United players after they fought back and claimed a point at Carrow Road.

Benitez’s side drew 2-2 with Norwich City thanks to a late goal from captain Jamaal Lascelles.

He equalised the game, and the goal came at an important time.

The result saw the Championship leaders maintain their one-point advantage over second-placed Brighton and Hove Albion, who were held to a 1-1 draw by Ipswich Town.

Lascelles had been involved in the incidents that led to Norwich’s first-half goals.

And United manager Benitez revealed Lascelles’ determination to atone for the mistakes after the game.

“It’s always important for the team to recover, but when a player knows he has been involved in a mistake, it is even more important for him that he can score,” said Benitez.

“He equalised the game, and the goal came at an important time. We were on top of them, we scored, and then we had a couple of chances to win. It was a pity they didn’t go in.”

Ayoze Perez put United into the lead after just 23 seconds, but a slip from Lascelles led to Norwich’s equaliser, which was scored by Jacob Murphy.

And a mix-up between Lascelles and goalkeeper Karl Darlow – who sliced a clearance – saw Jerome put the home side 2-1 up.

Newcastle, however, were much better after the break, when Norwich retreated into their own half.

Benitez was heartened by the reaction of his players after the break.

“The reaction and the character of the players was the most positive thing to come out of the game,” said Benitez.

“Football is a sport where anything can happen, and that is why so many people love football.

“You can win a game 1-0 with one chance, but you can have 20 chances, make a couple of mistakes and lose. In this case, the players didn’t want to lose and their reaction was excellent.

“The way they responded to going behind was really positive, and to show this character is important.

“We were away, playing against a good team, but we reacted well and I’m sure the away fans were enjoying the character, passion and commitment of these players.”