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Sarri surprised by Benítez's approach against Chelsea

27 August 2018

Maurizio Sarri joked that breaching Newcastle United's back-line was tougher than breaking down Serie A defences after his Chelsea side preserved their ideal start to the Premier League season with a 2-1 win at St James' Park.

Benitez nearly had the last laugh because Newcastle were on the verge of taking a point from the game.

Joselu had earlier cancelled out a controversial penalty from Eden Hazard.

That gave Chelsea a helping hand after 76 minutes of frustration, the Blues having until then failed to break down a Newcastle side set up to soak up pressure.

"I don't know. In Italy it was usual, of course not against Inter, Rome, Juventus but if we played against the last ten in the table, it was usual". They created little at the other end, but they drew level when Spanish forward Joselu headed in at the near post in the 83rd minute. But I was watching and analysing the stats and I don't agree with some of these comments.

Chelsea were in dominant fashion as they totalled 81% possession in the match, with Sarri left surprised by Benitez's defensive approach to the fixture. They face Man City next.

"You have to do what you have to do". "Possession statistics are misleading, you can have 80% of it and still lose".

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"We're disappointed with the second ball".

The visitors were handed a huge boost 14 minutes from time as referee Paul Tierney ruled Fabian Schar had fouled Marcos Alonso in the box, despite replays suggesting the Switzerland worldwide had got his foot to the ball.

The Magpies manager Rafa Benitez slammed the decision as "soft", and Match of the Day pundit Murphy agreed with his viewpoint.

"I will have to analyse (it) carefully".

In essence, Chelsea got lucky and Newcastle were unlucky (both in terms of the penalty being awarded against them and the deflection on Chelsea's own goal game-winner).

He added: "Obviously we were almost there, very close". I have to give credit to my players for the effort they have (put in). "It's usually three months, but my feeling is in this team there are a lot of intelligent players so I hope only two months", he said. "I was too far away". I think we showed improvement because the match was hard it was not easy to play well.

Sarri surprised by Benítez's approach against Chelsea