Rafael Benitez hails his players as Newcastle close in on safety

Rafael Benitez Manager

Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez praised his players for their response after fearing they were too relaxed ahead of their Premier League relegation clash with Huddersfield.

Benitez has regularly talked of trying to turn his side's home ground into a "fortress" - finally it seems as though his efforts are coming to fruition.

"We have seven games to go and are in and around the area where it's exciting for us". We didn't take our chances and in the second half there was a risk we could be caught, but we stayed calm.

"It was a great atmosphere and the team and fans together are stronger".

The Newcastle Captain says that this nearly certainly had an effect on the players and indeed you only have to look at the results to see evidence of that. On another day, Newcastle would have steamrollered Huddersfield, one of the teams they left the Championship with last summer.

He said: "His delivery, his crosses and set pieces - he is somebody who is different and he is a player playing with confidence now".

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Despite dominating for long periods, Newcastle had to wait until the 80th minute before they were able to make a breakthrough.

Benitez said: "When the other team is narrow and short, you have to wait, you have to be patient in the right positions and then be sure that when you have a chance, you have to be there. It's just about doing the right movements at the right time".

Having moved on to the 35-point mark, the Magpies are within touching distance of safety, with basement boys West Brom still to visit St James' next month.

I don't think like that at all because we will not have 40 points. "We are happy, but carry on".

In fact, the Terriers have failed to score in four consecutive league games for the first time since September 2002 whilst in the third tier.

Asked if he felt one of the promotion teams would be relegated at the start of the season, Benitez said: "It's hard to say".

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