Liverpool 2 – Newcastle 0
Before Saturday, Rafa Benitez had never lost a match at Anfield with an opposing team.
On Saturday evening, Newcastle virtually rolled over for a rampant Liverpool side that simply had no problem winning the game.
Mohamed Salah scored yet again for Liverpool with a goal just before half-time to break the Newcastle resistance.
Ten minutes after the break, Roberto Firmino teed up Mohamed Salah for 2-0 and it was game over.
Did Rafa Benitez get his tactics wrong?
As you would expect from a relegation-threatened side playing at the now second best team in the Premier League, Rafa Benitez went very defensive at Anfield.
Dwight Gayle started the game up front on his own. With Christian Atsu on the right and Jacob Murphy on the left.
All the other Newcastle players were defensive with Kenedy and DeAndre Yedlin as wing backs.
And, no less than two defensive midfielders in Mohamed Diame and Mikel Merino.
Liverpool dominated possession in the first half and eventually got their breakthrough. Once Salah scored it was straight forward for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
But, Newcastle kept the goal difference down and have that advantage over many of their relegation rivals.
Could Rafa Benitez have done anything different?
During the second half at Anfield, Newcastle fans sang negative songs about their owner Mike Ashley.
The Liverpool support applauded their fellow supporters in the away end.
And, this sums up what Rafa Benitez has to deal with: Effectively a Championship side playing in the Premier League football.
Benitez has done well to get to this stage of the season with a real chance of staying up.
Newcastle will be judged on their upcoming games against Southampton and Huddersfield Town.
Rafa Benitez comes in for criticism on social media
There was some criticism for Rafa Benitez on social media, see below.
However, most of it did not come from Newcastle fans.
Newcastle did look more effective going forward when they went for it a little midway through the second half.
Joselu and Isaac Hayden come on with Newcastle moving to a flat back four, but it was far from simple for the Toon against a very confident Liverpool side.
Rafa Benitez criticism on Twitter
2017 Rafa Benitez would’ve sat back and hoped AC Milan kept it at 3-0
— ً (@_jacoblfc) March 3, 2018
Anyone got any idea what Rafa Benitez tries to achieve in games… is he trying to break goal difference records
— Simon Thompson (@Sthompsonlaj) March 3, 2018
Rafa Benitez, tactical genius my arse. TV companies need to stop picking @nufc games for live coverage, they’re awful
— Andrew Griffiths (@sbs1aag1) March 3, 2018
Rafa Benitez is definitely an unders backer.
— John (@DogLayer) March 3, 2018
Rafa Benitez losing to Liverpool. He is not even bothered.
— Tsulo Possa (@tsulop) March 3, 2018