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Benitez praises Newcastle's 'character' and 'passion'

Benitez is starting to turn things around at Newcastle, but is it too late? Credit: PA

Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez believes his players have proved they have the character and belief to win their Premier League relegation battle.

Goals from Papiss Cisse and Jack Colback saw the Magpies come from 2-0 down at half-time at Anfield after goals from Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana to secure an important point in their quest to avoid the drop.

It ensured they avoided an unwanted club record of 10 successive away defeats and means they have taken five points from their last three matches, the last two of which have been draws against Manchester City and Liverpool.

After the match at Anfield, Benitez said:

We needed to show character and belief - we did it late but we did it and that is the positive thing. They (the players) have to realise where we are, what we have to do and how we have to play if we want to stay up.

I have said so many times since I have been here they have trained well, worked hard and they need confidence. When the game is 1-0 down maybe away they don't have the confidence but they showed character, reaction and passion.

I told the players it is important to understand the reaction is the way but it is more important not to make mistakes and not to give teams the chance to go ahead at the beginning of the game.

– Rafael Benitez

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Mbemba excited about Benitez as Newcastle manager

Defender Chancel Mbemba is relishing the opportunity to work under Rafael Benitez as he attempts to drag Newcastle out of the relegation mire.

Mbemba is excited about working with Benitez. Credit: Reuters

The Spaniard celebrated his 56th birthday on Saturday with his first victory at the helm, a 3-0 win over Swansea which rekindled the club's Barclays Premier League survival hopes.

Benitez's rejuvenated side faces a stern test of its fledgling recovery when Manchester City head for St James' Park on Tuesday evening, but Mbemba is determined to keep the ball rolling.

The 21-year-old said:

As a young player, it is absolutely fantastic to work with Rafa Benitez. He's a fantastic coach and fantastic man manager. Football is a strange game but we just need to keep working hard to make sure we grind out those results. We need to do that for the fans - they deserve that and it's what we are working hard to do.

It's the same for any game - you have to go into it believing you can win. We need to make sure we give the performance the fans want from us. They deserve it, they are always behind us and give us great motivation, so we will go out there and give 100 per cent for the shirt and the fans.

– Newcastle defender Chancel Mbemba

Newcastle need to build on Swansea win - Townsend

Andros Townsend netted against Swansea. Credit: PA

Andros Townsend has urged Newcastle to grasp the survival lifeline they have been thrown to preserve their Premier League status.

Rafael Benitez's men went into the weekend six points adrift of safety, but emerged having rekindled their hopes of pulling off a great escape after derby rivals and fellow relegation candidates Sunderland did both a favour by winning at Norwich before the Magpies secured a 3-0 home victory over Swansea.

The likelihood is still that two of the three clubs which currently occupy 17th, 18th and 19th places in the table will join relegated Aston Villa in next season's Sky Bet Championship, but victory over Manchester City - a big ask at the best of times - in their game in hand on the Canaries would lift Newcastle out of the drop zone and increase belief that they can yet rescue themselves.

It was massively important. The games have been running out and we knew that eventually we had to get three points, and we've done that now.

We've got five games left and we've got to win our home games if we want to stay in the Premier League.

I think people outside the club wrote us off after the Southampton game, but we knew that four of our last six games are at home, we knew that we had a good record at home and we knew that we were still in with a chance.

One week later, everything's changed. Norwich have slipped up, we've capitalised and now it's anyone's to grab now. Hopefully we can be the team that takes the last five games by the scruff of the neck and does enough to survive.

– Andros Townsend

Starting line-ups: Newcastle v Swansea

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Benitez: Newcastle players giving all to beat drop

Rafa Benitez has a tough task on his hands. Credit: PA

Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez believes his players are giving their all ahead of the latest game in their relegation battle against Southampton.

Keeping Newcastle in the Premier League could prove difficult for Benitez after they slipped six points adrift of safety with last weekend's 3-2 defeat at Norwich, a game in which they fought back twice before succumbing to an injury-time winner, but the manager is far from giving up.

The team, I can guarantee, is giving everything in every training session and we have to stop the mental block that they have. They are a little bit blocked and we need to change this.

How? Winning would be perfect. I have said before, there are 21 points still to play for, so we have to concentrate on the next game, don't see the other games - we can't have any influence on the others - so just concentrate on getting three points in this one.

If we can, it will be easier for me, the speech will be easier. If we cannot, still we have to keep on fighting until the end.

That is very clear for me and for every player, and that is the message for the fans: we will continue fighting, we will not give up until the last minute.

– Rafa Benitez
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