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Benitez hails Newcastle’s ‘fight’ in 2-1 defeat to Chelsea

Newcastle United boss Rafael Benitez was happy with the fighting spirit that his side showed in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Chelsea.

Chelsea took the lead in the ninth minute through Spanish winger Pedro, but were pegged back five minutes before the interval by Ciaran Clark.

Blues winger Willian scored the winning goal just before the hour mark, in a game in which Chelsea dominated possession.

However, despite only having 35% of the ball, Newcastle still managed to create a number of chances, with Benitez saying that his side were just lacking a little quality.

“We conceded a goal we could avoid but after that, we were fighting for every ball; these players care you could see that,” Benitez told BBC Sport.

“We scored and then controlled the last few minutes of the first half so it’s a pity but a piece of quality made the difference.

“You could see a lot of positives with the performance but no points. We knew that they would keep the ball and we had to maximize what we did when we got the ball. We had some chances on the counter but our final pass wasn’t there.”

The result cements Chelsea’s place in the top four but sees Newcastle drop into the bottom three after Southampton’s victory over Leicester.