By 90Min
October 22, 2017

Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez was relieved and thankful for a piece of luck which secured a narrow 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace at St James' Park on Saturday. 

Mikel Merino was the hero for the Magpies as his 86th minute winner came from a piece of good fortune after James McArthur headed the ball against the 21-year-old which sent the ball under the crossbar and beyond a helpless Julian Speroni.  

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The encounter was a lacklustre one from both sides, as scrappy play and lack of attacking flair resulted in Newcastle only notching their first shot on target in the 73rd minute, but Benitez was pleased with the final result which saw his side move to sixth in the table.

Benitez told Sky Sports following the game: "Sometimes you have a lot of chances and cannot score. Today was an even game, we were both well organised and in the end it was a good goal. The main thing is that we got three points.

"We needed to create something more. We couldn't do it but in the end we score from a set-piece, and they can make the difference. In this case it was a little bit lucky, but Merino had the determination and that was key in the end.

"We were on top of them and had this control, then a little bit of luck, which we had to get the three points."

The Newcastle boss oversaw his side keep their third clean sheet of the season, a feat which he attributes to an in-depth analysis of the oppositions forwards, as the Eagles failed to have a shot on target.

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Benitez added: "We knew that they had wingers up front with pace and ability, so we needed to make sure that we were not making mistakes.

"There were a couple of situations where we were under pressure but overall the players were well organised and controlled the game.

"It's important for us to continue being strong and be well organised. You have to keep control of their strikers and then let your own strikers make the difference."

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