Players Abroad of Tue, 2 Jan 20182

Benitez lauds Ayoze and Atsu partnership

Newcastle United manager, Rafa Benitez, has lauded the effective partnership between Ayoze Perez and Christian Atsu, as the Magpies recorded a crucial 1-0 win over Stoke City at the bet365 Stadium yesterday.

The partnership between Atsu and Ayoze upfront worked very well with Dwight Gayle and Joselu left on the bench as Ayoze scored the only goal of the match to push the Magpies away from the relegation zone.

Benitez said: “I knew that Atsu could play in this position, because I knew him before,” said United’s manager. “Ayoze has very clear movement, and the understanding between them both was very good. “Then the rest of the team were helping with good passes and movement. “After that, they were defending all together, and that was key.

“They started making crosses from everywhere, and we needed to cope with that, and we did well. “They created some pressure, but we still had time to create three or four counter-attacks, and we could have finished the game.

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“It was really good. I was really pleased with the way the players were working on the pitch, trying to do everything I wanted. “It was very pleasing. It was difficult for us with the team selection, because the players were tired, so we needed to mix things up a little bit. It was quite good.”

“I knew that Atsu likes to play between the lines and could do well. “You also saw (Mohamed) Diame and (Jonjo) Shelvey play well together, and that is what we’re doing in the training sessions.

“We change players, but they know what they have to do, and hopefully when they have to do it in a game, it will be fine.”

Newcastle will face Luton Town at St James’s Park on Saturday in a third-round FA Cup tie.

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