Rafa Benitez's surprising verdict on Jordan Pickford after Newcastle United's stunning comeback

Rafa Benitez brushed aside the controversy of Jordan Pickford's foul on Salomon Rondon after Newcastle United came from behind to beat Everton.

Saturday, 9th March 2019, 5:29 pm
Updated Sunday, 10th March 2019, 8:08 am
Salomon Rondon, left, and Ayoze Perez.

Benitez's side won 3-2 thanks to two goals from Ayoze Perez and a strike from Salomon Rondon.

The result, United's fifth successive home win, lifted the club up to 13th in the Premier League.

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Pickford conceded a first-half penalty for a foul on Rondon, but the Everton goalkeeper was not dismissed – or even shown a yellow card – by referee Lee Mason.

Matt Ritchie's penalty was saved by Pickford, and the visitors, leading through a Dominic Calvert-Lewin goal, doubled their advantage.

However, a second-half strike from Rondon sparked a late comeback from Newcastle, who are now six points clear of the relegation zone.

Asked if Washington-born Pickford, taunted by Newcastle fans, having started his career at Sunderland, should have been sent off, Benitez said: “No. It could be a yellow card, but that's it. I'm not too worried about that.

"It's more about the fact that we missed the penalty and we conceded a goal.

“We were practising penalties the other day with Ritchie, (Miguel) Almiron and (Salomon) Rondon, and they were scoring a lot of goals."

On the result, Benitez added: “I don't think we deserved to lose 2-0 in the way that we were playing.

"We had some chances, and then we made some mistakes in terms of second balls and gave them the chance with the quality they have to play behind or in between.

“We miss a penalty and one minute after, we concede, so things were going against us.

"But at half-time, we were talking about staying calm, keep going, be sure that if we score one goal, we will be back in the game."