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Benitez praises 'fight' of Newcastle match-winner Rondon

2:59 AM MYT 11/11/2018
Rondon - Cropped
The Venezuelan earned the praise of his manager, who was thrilled with Newcastle's battling spirit in the win over Bournemouth

Rafael Benitez praised the "fight" of Salomon Rondon after his two goals downed Bournemouth at St James' Park and predicted there is more to come from the Newcastle United striker.

Rondon netted with an early strike that was followed up by a thumping header, his first Premier League goals for the club sealing a 2-1 win, Jefferson Lerma scoring the visitors' goal.

After no victories in their first 10 top-flight matches of the season, Newcastle have now won two league games on the bounce for the first time since April and risen to 14th in the table.

Benitez liked what he saw on Saturday, backing Rondon to get even better if he can get fitter.

"Rondon did well, he has to improve his fitness but he was working well and trying to fight the defenders," Benitez said as quoted by BBC Sport.

"He shows what he can do and is giving us something different.

"We knew that they would be difficult because they have had good form and are doing well. We have to give credit to our players, they were very good. They gave everything and the atmosphere was good.

"We have done well in some games but that was one of the best mentalities and the way we competed for the ball.

"They changed their play in the second half so we had to change ours and they were losing players to a few knocks. We did well, they have pace and ability up front but we had to take chances and finish the game."

Rondon himself added: "We need this to be honest, this is the way we need to keep working and fighting. You can see the level, so we need to keep playing like that to stay up. I am really happy, we have played really well. I have to keep working, this is my job to score, I am very happy."

Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe felt a poor first-half display was to blame, while discussing his concern over defender Adam Smith, who was taken off on a stretcher with a bizarre but serious knee injury suffered while taking a free-kick deep in his own half, with no contact made by a Newcastle player. 

The long delay led to eight minutes of stoppage time before the break, and Howe said: "Adam Smith looks like he's got a knee injury, it looks quite serious, he's in quite a bit of pain in the dressing room. 

"It did disrupt the flow of the game, the long delay and obviously the players were concerned so that didn't help.

"I'm disappointed with the first half and our slow start, when you come here the crowd will be in the game. We had a difficult opening period but we fought to the end and had some chances but it wasn't to be."

Captain Simon Francis added: "I've just seen Adam Smith on crutches, we are all devastated for him but without a scan we aren't sure how serious it is and our thoughts are with him."