RAFAEL BENITEZ remains confident he will lead Chelsea to Champions League qualification despite having more misery piled on him by Newcastle United.
The under-fire Spaniard, who remains unwanted by Blues fans because of his previous connections with Liverpool, felt referee Howard Webb's decision not to penalise Fabricio Coloccini for his first half kick on Demba Ba proved costly.
Benitez felt Coloccini should have seen red and conceded a penalty for the high foot which left the former Magpies striker with a broken nose on his first return to St James' Park.
But the Chelsea manager also thought many of his players did not show the sort of top level know-how which many of them possess from years of representing their country and winning honours after edging 2-1 ahead in the second half.
He said: “I was really pleased with the reaction of the players and the second half performance but we have to manage it in a better way and show better experience when we are winning because at 2-1 we looked on our way to victory. “We were on top and had control, but we didn’t have the experience to stop the counter attacks. We have experienced players but we didn’t do well. The last one last week at Reading was a lack of concentration, here we didn’t stop them on the counter attack and that is something we have to improve.”
But Benitez thinks the outcome would have been different had Webb come down hard on Coloccini.
“Demba Ba has broken his nose,” said Benitez. “It was a penalty and it should have been a red card. A penalty and red card, very simple.
“If it is a free kick in the middle of the park, carry on, go back and free-kick, but in the penalty box carry on, go back, penalty and a red card. Simple.”
Chelsea have picked up 22 points from 13 matches under Benitez but with a four point cushion over fifth placed Everton he remains optimistic about finishing in a Champions League spot.
He said: “The top four is the priority and we will try to get in the top three. It doesn’t matter. I always try to do my best and be ready for the next one. I pay attention to every single detail I can and I will continue to do that to get results.”
More Newcastle Utd News
- Newcastle midfielder Taylor plays down knee injury fears
- Match Report: Newcastle United 1 QPR 0
- Pardew: This Newcastle attack has superior strengths to the one that finished fifth
- For all his failings, Barton will return to Newcastle as a favourite son
- Redknapp backs Ashley and criticises Newcastle fans' attitude to their owner