NEWCASTLE boss Rafa Benitez was pleased with the work ethic displayed by his team in their 2-1 win over Burton Albion, and praised his side’s ability to adapt away from home.
The Championship leaders, who have lost just five of their 22 league games this season, edged the tight encounter thanks to a first-half winner from Mohamed Diame, after Lloyd Dyer had cancelled out Dwight Gayle’s opener. Newcastle were on the back foot for much of the game and were tested by a barrage of pressure from Nigel Clough’s side late-on.
Newcastle came into the game on the back of another testing trip, having beaten Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium on Wednesday night.
Benitez felt that his team battled hard for their win over Burton, and the former Liverpool and Real Madrid manager was pleased that his team were not affected by the difference in setting that was the Pirelli Stadium.
“[We adapted] really well, because Wigan was another test, a different one, and this one was even harder and we did well.
“To see players working as hard as they were, trying to compete in the air and hold the ball, play counter attack, defend and clear, we have players who are learning to play in this division, so it is really important for any team."
Benitez’s men retained their nine point lead over third-placed Reading with victory in Staffordshire ensuring that the Magpies will be top of the league at Christmas.
The Brewers remain one place, and two points, ahead of Blackburn in 22nd place. Burton’s next game is a testing Boxing Day trip to Villa Park, where Clough’s team will be hoping to pick up their first away win of the season. Newcastle host Sheffield Wednesday on Boxing Day.