A FRUSTRATED Rafael Benitez admitted Newcastle United’s 1-0 defeat to Bournemouth was a “self-inflicted” reverse.

The Magpies suffered their second home defeat of the campaign as Steve Cook headed home from a corner in the first minute of stoppage time.

Florian Lejeune and Ciaran Clark were both out-jumped as Cook scored, but Newcastle’s main failings had come earlier in the game.

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Despite dominating much of the first half, the Magpies spurned a succession of chances to break the deadlock, and they were overrun in midfield as Bournemouth grew into the game after the interval.

“We were making mistakes in possession, easy mistakes, not because it was amazing pressing,” said Benitez. “They went direct late on, and they knew what they had to do. We gave them the chance to believe they could score. It was a self-inflicted defeat.”

The result leaves Newcastle in the bottom half of the table for the first time since early September, and tempers some of the enthusiasm that had built as they briefly forced themselves into the top four.

The squad looked light after a failure to sign players in the closing weeks of the transfer window, and having refused to get too carried away when his side was flying high, Benitez accepts his players have to be at their very best in every game if they are to avoid results such as this.

“I was worried from the first of September,” said the Magpies boss. “What I did is to work harder, and that is what I will do now.

“We are where we are. I said before, now is another proof that we have to keep working and keep compact together or we will have problems in these kind of games.”

Newcastle’s best first-half opportunity saw Matt Ritchie hit the post, before Dwight Gayle’s effort from the rebound was ruled out for offside.

Television replays suggest Gayle might have been level with the last Bournemouth defender, but Benitez refused to attribute the defeat to poor decisions from the officials.

“I will not talk about the decisions because I am not very happy with the decisions,” he said. “Once you lose, it doesn’t matter if it is tough or not. We lost. We didn’t do what we had to do in a lot of occasions.

“We made mistakes, and in the end, we paid for that. We gave the ball away easy without great pressing, we were giving them chances to counter-attack.”

Jamaal Lascelles was withdrawn in the second half after damaging his ankle, and the defender left the ground on crutches with his boot in a protective cast.