Rafael Benitez says Newcastle United need to create more chances to stay in the Premier League after a 1-1 draw with Sunderland at St James’ Park.
Aleksandar Mitrovic scored late as Newcastle avoided a seventh successive derby defeat, but it ultimately does little to improve their situation at the wrong end of the table.
However, Benitez remains confident that if the improvement he has seen in his first two games at the helm continues, they can still drag themselves out of trouble.
When it was suggested to him that the table – which shows the Magpies are three points adrift of safety with eight games remaining – looked scary, Benitez said: “It was scary before.
“I am here because I have to give the team confidence and we have to improve things. Again I will say at Leicester, you could see a lot of good things; still not enough. Today in the second half, a lot of good things; not enough.
“We have eight games to play and we know they will be incredibly difficult. We know it will be difficult, for sure. I knew before.
“We are creating chances, we are attacking and we can be there, so we have to improve this part of the game and create more chances and [Aleksandar] Mitrovic or Papiss Cisse or the other strikers will score more goals and we will be fine.
“But I can maybe say that we will have to fight until the last game and the last minute, so we have to do it.”
Mitrovic, who later appeared to be knocked unconscious in an aerial challenge, got Newcastle out of jail with an 83rd-minute equaliser after the Black Cats had threatened to extend their winning derby run to seven games when Jermain Defoe capitalised on a good first-half display with a 44th-minute opener.
It was just the Serbia international’s sixth goal of the season, and Benitez is hoping there are more to come.
“I said before that he has the potential. We have to help him a little bit with better crosses, better deliveries and support and get closer to him, but he will score goals if we can do that,” he said.