Rafa Benitez reacts to Mikel Merino's dramatic late winner for Newcastle

Mikel Merino
Mikel Merino

Rafa Benitez hailed the "character" of his Newcastle United side after they climbed up to sixth in the Premier League table.

A late goal from Mikel Merino gave the club a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace at St James's Park this afternoon.

“When you win a game you have to be really pleased," said United manager Benitez.

"It was a good delivery and good determination form Merino. It was really important to show the character of the team.

"To the end we were trying to control, attack and push."

Merino, signed on a permanent deal earlier this month, headed a Matt Ritchie corner past Julien Speroni in the 85th minunte.

And Benitez has long know about Merino's ability to attack corners.

"We knew when he was in Osasuna he was strong in corners," said Benitez. "We knew about this option.

"It’s not the best thing he can do. He scored with Spain Under-21s with his feet, but he's not bad in the air."