By Russell Edge

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez has claimed that his side were lucky to secure victory over Crystal Palace on Saturday.

A 86th minute goal from Mikel Merino, heading home from a Matt Ritchie corner for his first goal for the club, was enough to secure the three points and give Newcastle their first win in four matches.

It was a clash lacking in quality as both sides struggled to break down their opposition, with clear cut chances at a premium.

However Benitez has surprisingly suggested that the Magpies were lucky to have seen off the Eagles, despite Roy Hodgson’s side failing to have a single shot on target against the home side.

Speaking to Sky Sports after the game, he said: “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.

“In this case it was a little bit lucky, but Merino had the determination and that was key in the end.

“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.

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

 Newcastle’s win means they move up from ninth place to sixth in the Premier League table, although despite being ahead of both Arsenal and Liverpool, both sides have a game in hand over the Magpies.
Crystal Palace meanwhile remain rooted to the foot of the table, having picked up their first points of the season last weekend with a 2-1 win over reigning champions Chelsea at Selhurst Park.
Newcastle’s next game sees them travel to Turf Moor to take on Burnley, who lost 3-0 to Manchester City on Saturday.

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