Rafa Benitez says practice makes perfect at Newcastle United – after his team finally netted from a set-piece.
A goal from Ayoze Perez gave the club a 1-0 win over Watford on Saturday.
Perez headed a Ki Sung-yueng free-kick past Ben Foster at St James’s Park to get Newcastle up and running in the Premier League.
Free-kicks and corners had been a strong point last season, and Benitez is hoping Perez’s strike is the first of many this term.
“We’ve been practising set-pieces every week, and we couldn’t get anything from that,” said Benitez. “It was a great delivery and great movement of Ayoze.
“Last year, that was a big difference. This year, still we needed that. Hopefully, it will be the first of a lot of goals.”
To see that you can score a goal and get three points from a free-kick, that’s another big boost for everyone in terms of concentration for the next game.Rafa Benitez
Benitez’s coaching team – Mike Antia, Antonio Gomez Perez and Francisco de Miguel Moreno – work daily on set-pieces.
“For them, it’s important,” said Benitez. “Antonio, Mikel and Paco (Moreno), they’re always working really hard, especially on set-pieces.
“To see that you can score a goal and get three points from a free-kick, that’s another big boost for everyone in terms of concentration for the next game.”
Meanwhile, only six Premier League teams have conceded few goals than United this season.
United’s manager said: “If you see the teams that normally get relegated, they normally concede goals. We don’t concede too many, so that, for me, is one of the biggest hopes of why we can stay up.
“We’re organised, and it’s difficult to break us down. We still made some mistakes, and they had some chances, but it’s not easy for the other teams to create chances against us.
“That’s a good foundation, and we know we can still improve. Our problem is that we have to create more or create better chances.
“We had 27 attempts against Brighton, and that’s enough, but we need clearer chances and we need to be making the right decision in the final third.”