Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri ‘surprised’ by ultra-defensive tactics of Rafael Benitez’s Newcastle
Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri was surprised at the ultra-defensive tactics of Rafael Benitez in the Blues’ 2-1 victory at St James’ Park.
Sarri’s side had 82% of possession but still relied on a controversial Eden Hazard penalty and a late own-goal from DeAndre Yedlin after Joselu looked to have rescued a point for Newcastle.
Benitez was Napoli manager before Sarri inherited his position in 2015, and earlier in the week, the Italian had praised his predecessor for his work in Naples.
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It therefore came as a surprise to the Chelsea boss when he was faced with a different Benitez team to the one he knows.
Sarri said: “It was a very difficult game for us.
“I think here [St James’ Park] is very difficult for every team. Last season Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal lost here.
“I was surprised at the beginning because in Italy I have never seen Rafa [Benitez] play with five defenders. So I was really surprised.
“Newcastle were very compact, so we could only move the ball and be patient.”