Rafa Benitez knew his Newcastle United side couldn’t hang with Manchester City for 90 minutes, so he hoped to stay close until late and go from there.
[ RECAP: Newcastle 0-1 Man City ]
Down 1-0 with 15 minutes to go, Benitez let his Magpies fly and was also repaid with an equalizer as Man City was under pressure over the final quarter hour.
Benitez says the goal was to grind out 0-0 late, and then hope for fortune to smile on his undermanned side.
“We knew we needed to work really hard to get something,” Benitez said. “It’s a pity that we conceded.”
“In the last 20 minutes we did what we were expecting. We were on top of them and we tried to regain and press high. … It was our best chance to stay in the game until the end. I was really pleased with the last minutes, and really pleased with the team in terms of organization and work rate.”
It’s interesting that Benitez designed his “everyone behind the ball” with the idea to press late and catch City off guard. In some ways, it went according to plan, though it’s difficult to think this is a blueprint: if Sergio Aguero was on his game, City might’ve been up 4-0 at the break.