Rafa Benitez reveals how Salomon Rondon went against his wishes – and scored for Newcastle United

Salomon Rondon celebrates his goal.
Salomon Rondon celebrates his goal.

Rafa Benitez had wanted Florian Lejeune to take the free-kick won by Miguel Almiron at the Vitality Stadium.

Salomon Rondon opened the scoring against Bournemouth with a superb 25-yard set-piece late in the first half.

In this situation, I didn’t see him, and then I said to Lejeune ‘you have to take the free-kick’. But then Salomon said ‘I can do it.’

Rafa Benitez

Almiron had won the free-kick with a run from deep in his own half.

Benitez – whose side held Bournemouth to a 2-2 draw thanks to a 94th-minute equaliser from Matt Ritchie – had first wanted Lejeune to take the set-piece.

“We were practising in training, and he likes to practice with Lejeune, Ritchie and Kenedy,” said United’s manager. “They are all quite good at taking free-kicks.

“In this situation, I didn’t see him, and then I said to Lejeune ‘you have to take the free-kick’. But then Salomon said ‘I can do it.’

“I didn’t see Salomon at that stage, but Lejeune is quite good from a distance, but Rondon is also quite good from a distance, and they compete against each other in training sessions, so they’re quite good.

“I was happy for either to take it.”

Rondon, signed on loan from West Bromwich Albion last summer, has scored 10 goals in all competitions this season.

“He’s doing well for us, and he knows that the main thing he has to do is just to keep scoring goals and try to help the team,” said Benitez.

“Sometimes he can do that by scoring goals, sometimes it’s just pressing the defenders, holding the ball, linking with other players, things like that.

“I think he knows what we need from him, and he must keep doing that.”