Benitez laments squandered Newcastle chances after Man United comeback

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Benitez praised his players despite their winless run extending to eight games following a 3-2 defeat at Old Trafford

Rafael Benitez has hailed his Newcastle United players despite the Magpies squandering a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 against Manchester United.

The Magpies appeared on course for their first win of the season when they established a commanding lead inside 10 minutes at Old Trafford thanks to goals from Kenedy and Yoshinori Muto.

But having missed numerous chances to kill the game off, Newcastle wilted and Juan Mata, Anthony Martial and, in the final minute, Alexis Sanchez all scored to ease the pressure on under-fire boss Jose Mourinho.

Benitez told BT Sport: "It was a great game. We did really well in the first half, even in the second half we had two or three situations on the counter-attack when we could have scored a third goal.

"When you play against a very good team, it's not easy because [with] every substitution they were better and better.

"It's a pity to concede the way that we conceded, close to the end. I said to the players that they did a great job. We have to manage situations a bit better if we can, but they were pushing and pushing and they have so many good players.

"When you have top-class players, this can happen. They scored a great goal and then they put [Marouane] Fellaini, they put Alexis on. So many good players on the bench. They made the difference.

"The team is working so hard, they know what they have to do, but it's a pity. When you're 2-0 up, the chances that we had to score a third goal could make the difference."

The defeat leaves Newcastle second bottom in the Premier League, having taken just two points from their opening eight games, the club's worst start to a top-flight season.

However it could have so different for the North East club, who took the lead in a match this season for the first time when Kenedy wrong-footed Ashley Young and tucked the ball beyond David de Gea.

Ashley Young, Man Utd, Kenedy, Newcastle United

Muto netted his maiden Newcastle goal with a powerful shot from 12 yards to double the advantage and could have had a second but his free header was kept out.

Captain Jamaal Lascelles was also denied by De Gea, while Young's handball should have resulted in a penalty following Jonjo Shelvey's free-kick.

United staged a second-half comeback inspired by Paul Pogba, who set up the equaliser netted by Anthony Martial after substitute Juan Mata had halved the deficit with a free-kick.

The comeback was complete when Sanchez nodded home in the final minute of normal time, but midfielder Matt Ritchie was heartened by the display.

"We gave ourselves a chance and we're disappointed not to have carried it [the performance] out for 90 minutes," he said.

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"We did really well in the first half and could have scored one or two more and there are some positives we need to take from that.

"Us as players are the only people who can get us out of this. We showed today that we have got some threat, certainly in the first half."

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