Rafael Benitez has given his first press conference as Newcastle manager
Boss man: Benitez has given his first press conference as Newcastle manager

By Emma Sanders

Rafa Benitez has hailed the “character” of his side as Newcastle returned to the top of the Championship table with a 2-1 victory over Brentford on Saturday.

It was a tough game for Benitez’s side who suffered a number of high-profile injuries throughout the clash which put Newcastle under pressure.

Dwight Gayle scored the opener before having to be subbed off after just 28 minutes with a hamstring injury and Isaac Hayden was also forced off with a groin injury.

Benitez was then given further problems when Vurnon Anita left the field on a stretcher just minutes after coming on to replace Hayden.

“We started well in the game, then we lost a little bit of control. Then we had problems, losing Gayle, Hayden and after Anita, the players showed the character that you are expecting from a winning team that wants to go up,” said Benitez, as reported by the Chronicle. “Character was the main thing for me.”

Subscribe to Football Insider TV now

Lasse Vibe scored the equaliser to allow Brentford back into the game but Newcastle marched on despite the injury set-backs and secured their first victory of the new year.

Daryl Murphy, who came on as a substitute, scored the winning goal late in the second-half to seal victory as he celebrated his first league goal of the campaign.

It meant Newcastle returned to the top of the table after they suffered a slight dip in form throughout the festive period – picking up two defeats and one draw in the four games previous.

Newcastle currently hold a one point lead over Brighton in the league table but the second-placed side have a game in hand still left to play.

In other Newcastle news, the club have maintained an interest in this Championship star.

We’ve launched an <<EXCLUSIVE TRANSFER WINDOW NEWS FEED.>> ‘Like Us’ on Facebook by clicking here if you want 24/7 updates on all Newcastle transfer news.