Benitez salutes Newcastle 'heroes' Townsend and Darlow


Rafael Benitez hailed both Andros Townsend and Karl Darlow as match-winners as his Newcastle United side sealed a vital win over Crystal Palace.

Townsend's stunning free-kick proved enough for the home side to take all three points at St James' Park and move out of the Premier League relegation zone, though they had Darlow to thank for keeping out Yohan Cabaye's penalty midway through the second half.

Benitez was delighted with Darlow's all-round performance in the Newcastle goal, but felt Townsend's strike was equally worthy of recognition.

"It was better because we won. You enjoy it even more when you win in this way," he said.

"It wasn't just the penalty. The balls in the air, when he punched or caught them, he gave the defence confidence.

"You can say he's a hero but you can say the same for Andros. It was fantastic. We practiced different free-kicks, but not this one! He did well."

Benitez believes confidence is growing within his squad following two wins and two draws in their last four league games, but he insisted next week's match at Aston Villa is still of paramount importance.

"It could be an important win for us. It's important for the fans but we have to keep going. We have to approach the game against Aston Villa like another final," he said.

"We won against Swansea, had two difficult games against Liverpool and [Manchester] City and now we have these three points. The players are confident, they are working hard and know that working for each other is the key. The fans know that supporting the team is the key. Hopefully they can make the difference again.

"We have to win one - the next one. Afterwards, we'll think about the next."