Rafa Benitez fumes at 'soft' penalty after Newcastle lose 4-0 at Liverpool
Last Updated: 26/12/18 6:51pm
Rafa Benitez said Liverpool's "soft penalty" to go 2-0 up against Newcastle proved "crucial" to the outcome at Anfield.
Referee Graham Scott awarded a penalty, which Mohamed Salah scored, after the Egyptian was adjudged to have been pulled back by Paul Dummett moments after half-time.
Newcastle would concede two more goals late on as they fell to a 4-0 defeat, but Benitez said the penalty award had proved a key moment.
He told Sky Sports: "The soft penalty in the game made the difference, we were in the game 1-0 at half-time, but when we conceded the second goal it was more difficult for us to react against a very good team.
"The second goal was crucial, it gave them more confidence and was more difficult for us, you have to take more risks, be more open then you make more mistakes and pay for that."
Benitez made six changes from the side which drew with Fulham on Saturday but denied saving his players for tests on the horizon, including a trip to Watford next weekend.
He said "We made changes because we felt we needed fresh legs and energy to play here, and the gameplan was to play on the counter-attack - we started well, and in the first half a lot of things were positive, but not enough.
"We played against a very good team, they are in form and have confidence. We started the game well, had a chance and made a mistake to give them the chance to score the goal.
"We knew and they knew it would be something like that in the first half, they would try to find different ways to break us down and we would have to be strong and stay in the game, which we did."