With many Newcastle fans already unconvinced, extra-time of the quarter-final was not the time for Matz Sels to make another mistake.
Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez has refused to single out Matz Sels for blame as the goalkeeper’s spill gifted Hull City an equaliser in their EFL Cup quarter final defeat on Tuesday, The Chronicle reports.
The Belgian international was handed his first start between the sticks for over a month as he lined up at the KCom Stadium in midweek, having been usurped by Karl Darlow in the league after struggling to adapt to the physical nature of English football.
However, Sels only served to increase the mounting pressure on his shoulders as he spilled Markus Henriksen’s shot to the feet of Robert Snodgrass in extra-time, allowing the Scotland winger to equalise moments after Mo Diame had given Newcastle the lead.
Newcastle went on to lose on penalties and many Magpies fans took to social media to respond furiously to yet another mistake from the former Genk ‘keeper, but Benitez has attempted to absolve some of blame by claiming his defence should not have allowed Hull to wrestle their way into a threatening position so soon after the visitors had taken the lead.
“I don’t want to talk about the goalkeeper – the team as a team made mistakes. That is what allowed them to score,” the Spaniard, who has lost back-to-back games in charge of Newcastle for the first time since August, said in quotes reported by The Chronicle.
“It is not about the keeper – it was the midfielders, the defenders, everyone. We allowed them to get to a position where they should not have been.”
Regardless, Benitez is likely to bring Darlow back into the fold for Friday’s trip to Nottingham Forest, with speculation over Sels’ future set to intensify.
The 24-year-old was linked with a return to Belgium earlier this month, a decision that would appear to suit all parties as the club prepare to welcome Rob Elliot back from injury.