Benitez lauds 'amazing' players and fans as Newcastle reach top 10

Newcastle United climbed into the Premier League's top half with victory at Leicester City to leave manager Rafael Benitez waxing lyrical.

Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez   -  Getty Images

Rafael Benitez paid tribute to Newcastle United's "amazing" players and fans after they climbed into the Premier League's top half with victory at Leicester City.

Newcastle were good value for their 2-1 win on Saturday, scoring through Jonjo Shelvey and Ayoze Perez while limiting the hosts to only one late chance from which Jamie Vardy netted.

And Benitez was delighted with the efforts of his team and over 3,000 travelling supporters after a third straight success.

"It was amazing, the effort of the players, the way they were working, creating chances and the connection with the fans, who were amazing too," he told BBC Sport.

"Sometimes, when you play a good team, you are under pressure but still they were doing well, it was a professional performance. 

"Leicester are always dangerous, they have the players who can hurt you, but we also had three or four counter attacks where we could have done better. You cannot complain."

Asked if Newcastle are now assured of top-flight safety, Benitez replied: "Not yet, still we are closer but we have to carry on. Nearly, but we have to carry on."

And Leicester boss Claude Puel conceded his side came up short against a resolute Newcastle outfit.

"It was not enough," he said. "We wasted a fantastic opportunity for this team to believe in themselves. 

"It was not enough in the first half. It was better in the second half, with our reaction, but it's a shame. We will discuss together.

"We know when we play a game like this, against a team with a strong defensive unit, we have to play quickly and with quality - it was too slow.

"We believe in ourselves to come back with a good mentality, hard work in training and prepare for our next game with a good feeling."

Puel also had a grievance with referee Stuart Atwell as he felt a first-half penalty decision should have gone the Foxes' way, the official adjudging Paul Dummett to have pulled out of a challenge on Riyad Mahrez before the winger went to ground.

"[Dummett] touched his foot," the Leicester manager said. "For me, it is a penalty."

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