Alan Shearer explains what Benitez must have told Newcastle at half-time against Sunderland

Rafa Benitez 02

The two sides drew 1-1 at St James Park on Sunday.

Rafa Benitez must have told Newcastle United to start playing with width at half-time against Sunderland in order to negate Jan Kirchhoff, Alan Shearer has told Match of the Day 2, broadcast on March 20.

The two sides met in the Tyne-Wear derby on Sunday afternoon, with both in desperate need of all three points to escape the relegation zone.

Instead they shared the points as Aleksandar Mitrovic’s late header cancelled out Jermain Defoe’s opener in the first half.

That first 45 minutes was one that the Black Cats had dominated, and Shearer believes Benitez must have told his side to change things up at half-time in an attempt to salvage the game.

“I’m pretty sure what Rafa will have told them at half time is, ‘you’ve got to move the ball quicker but also get it wide,’” he told Match of the Day 2.

“That was just to take Kirchhoff out the game because he was such a huge presence particularly for the first hour of the game.”

The Magpies will now be hoping that the late goal from Mitrovic can give them the confidence boost they need to escape the relegation fight.

Newcastle are currently three points from safety, with Norwich City’s win over West Bromwich Albion taking them clear for the time being.

However, it is the Canaries up next for Benitez’s side in a game that is sure to play a huge part in this season’s relegation battle.

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