Rafa Benitez reveals why he had to take Kenedy off in Newcastle's defeat to Man City

Rafa Benitez
Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez praised his players for their "fighting" spirit against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.

The Premier League champions beat Newcastle United 2-1 this evening thanks to goals from Raheem Sterling and Kyle Walker.

DeAndre Yedlin was on target for Benitez's side, who are now 18th in the Premier League.

Newcastle fought back after going behind early on – Yedlin cancelled out Sterling's strike – and the game was decided by a second-half goal from Walker.

“I was pleased with some things, but disappointed in the end because you want to get a result," said United manager Benitez.

"The team effort was there – and the mentality. You could see the players were fighting for each other. I was really pleased with that, but disappointed, because still we have a short blanket and we have to manage that better if we want to get a result here.

“You have to be optimistic, because the team was doing well in the last four games, three against three of the best teams in England and we were close.

"I don’t say we deserved more or less, but we were close. And against Cardiff, with 10 players, we missed a penalty when we could have got three points.

"You have to be optimistic, but at the same time, realistic. We knew it could be difficult at the beginning, so we have to carry on.

"The positive thing is you could see the players working really hard for each other. The negative thing is that we have to improve on the ball to be sure that we can score some goals and get better results."

Meanwhile, winger Kenedy was taken off in the 54th minute after Walker scored the home side's second goal.

Asked if he had an injury, Benitez said: "He had a headache."