Rafa Benitez: Still room for improvement from NEwcastle

Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez
Image: Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez warned Newcastle's promotion rivals that his side can still improve following a routine 3-1 win over Brentford which put them second in the Sky Bet Championship.

The Spaniard had urged his players to make a quick start in his programme notes and they did not let him down in front of a bumper crowd of 51,885 - Ciaran Clark heading an 11th-minute opener before Dwight Gayle doubled the hosts' advantage five minutes later.

Gayle completed his brace four minutes after half-time and although Brentford quickly pulled one back through Scott Hogan, a comeback was never on the cards.

"I'm pleased because after the international break it's not easy," said Benitez, whose side have now won eight of their last 10 league games. "We did everything we wanted to do - we controlled the game and had good chances.

"I'm not watching the table because it's too soon. I said the other day I was convinced we could improve; I'm pleased but we can still improve."

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Jonjo Shelvey had a hand in all three goals and Gayle's brace took his tally to nine in 10 games for the Magpies, making him the division's top scorer in the process.

Benitez was pleased with both players for stamping their authority on the match.

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"The team is doing a lot of good things and we have a striker who is confident in front of goal and scoring," he added.

On Shelvey he continued: "He's doing well; he has confidence, he has the quality. He controlled the game."

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