Newcastle United fans played their part in the club’s victory over Everton – by distracting Jordan Pickford.
That’s the view of Salomon Rondon, who was brought down by the goalkeeper in Saturday’s 3-2 win at St James’s Park.
Pickford had a nightmare second half as Newcastle came from two goals down to claim all three points.
The former Sunderland goalkeeper had saved a first-half penalty from Matt Ritchie after Lee Mason penalised him for a rugby tackle on Rondon.
However, Rondon – who sparked United’s comeback with his eighth Premier League goal of the season – felt that Pickford should also have been dismissed.
“The keeper lost the ball and I tried to score, which is when he pushed me,” said the on-loan striker. “It was a penalty and for me it was definitely a red card. I would have got a shot off, or even a header, because the ball was in the air, but the most important thing is that we won the game.
“We were all thinking that we should have been playing against 10 men, but these things can happen in football, and the most important thing in those situations is not to blame the referee or think it should have been a red card, but to realise the position you’re in and keep working.
“We were 2-0 down at home, and that made it very difficult for us, but in the second half we analysed the situation. We had to wake up, because we knew these points were so important for us. We were angry, of course we were. We don’t want to lose any games, but especially in front of our own fans.
“It was difficult and frustrating. We felt very down at that point, but in the second half we realised that, we knew that we were playing at home and that we had to win.
“We pressed high and we attacked and won the second balls and it was so much better. The spirit in the team was magnificent.”
The keeper lost the ball and I tried to score, which is when he pushed me,” said the on-loan striker. “It was a penalty and for me it was definitely a red card.Salomon Rondon
Pickford childishly reacted to chants from Newcastle fans during the game. And the England international has been criticised for not putting his boyhood loyalty to Sunderland to one side on his return to the North East.
Asked about the chants, Rondon said: “All the supporters were blaming him, because he used to play for our rivals. That’s normal.
“He had to put his mind on the game, but maybe that helped us. It was a massive three points.
“It was an amazing game and a great comeback for us, for Newcastle, the supporters and for my team-mates. We’re very happy. The noise when we scored the first goal was incredible. The fans pushed us to do what we did.
“We had to win the game the hard way. Being 2-0 down at half-time was not ideal. We conceded the first goal, then we missed the penalty and then Everton went further ahead and at that moment things didn’t look good for us.
“Our psychology at that time was very down, but we recovered really well. We went into the dressing room and told each other that we had to wake up, but we did that.”
The result saw United maintain a six-point cushion above the relegation zone.
“If we had lost, with both Southampton and Cardiff winning it would have made things nervous again,” said Rondon. “It’s so close. We know this league is really difficult, and any result can go any way, so we have to do our job. Thankfully we did.”
Rondon combined superbly with Perez – who went on to score twice himself – for Newcastle’s goal. Perez headed a cross to Rondon, who played a return pass. Perez, without looking, then lifted the ball back to Rondon, who beat Pickford with a left-footed volley.
“Our relationship is good, and I’m sure it makes it easier because we can talk in Spanish together,” said Rondon.
“That’s the same with a few of the other guys too, but it feels like me and Ayoze understand each other on the pitch. We know how each other plays, where he will be running, when to pass, and the gaffer helps us too. We play like a team – he’s not selfish.”
On his goal, Rondon added: “It’s the kind of thing we work on together on the training ground. He brought the defenders towards him.”
Rafa Benitez, United’s manager, lauded Perez’s return pass. “If (Lionel) Messi had done that everybody would be talking about it,” said Rondon. “It was fantastic for the team.”