Rafa Benitez sets sights on former club Liverpool after Newcastle's draw
Rafael Benitez is targeting victory over former club Liverpool after seeing Newcastle take another small step towards safety.
The Magpies edged to within two points of Norwich after a hard-fought 1-1 draw with Champions League semifinalists Manchester City at St James' Park, and might even have snatched a priceless win -- which would have lifted them out of the Premier League drop zone -- at the death.
However, they will head for Anfield on Saturday knowing only a continuation of their improved form -- they have taken four points from the last six on offer -- will give them any chance of getting out of trouble.
Benitez, who led Liverpool to Champions League glory in 2005, said: "We have to try to win every game, it doesn't matter where.
"My connection with Liverpool is obvious, it's quite good, but hopefully they will do really well in the Europa League and we can get three points in the Premier League.
"At the moment, it's true that we are doing well, so hopefully the game away against a very good team like Liverpool, we can see the same things. But you never know.
"What we have is belief. We believe now that we can fight, we can beat anyone and in the next games, we have to show that."
The Magpies, who had not beaten City in the league in 18 attempts dating back to September 2005, came desperately close to doing so on a night when Sergio Aguero's 100th Premier League goal -- which should have been disallowed for offside -- gave the visitors a 15th-minute lead.
Vurnon Anita's first strike in more than two years levelled it and substitute Georginio Wijnaldum was denied a stoppage time winner by keeper Joe Hart.
Asked if he was pleased, Benitez said: "Yes, pleased -- very pleased if Gini had scored the goal. But really pleased because the reaction of the players, the way that we were fighting, the passion, the commitment, the relationship with the fans, everything was so positive today that it was just a pity that we couldn't score the second goal.
"It could be better, but it could be worse because you are playing against a team that is in form, it's in the semi finals of the Champions League and at the top of the Premier League.
"Before the game, I wanted the three points; after conceding the goal, to see the reaction of the team, one point could be fine; after Gini's chance, I was a little bit upset, but you have to be pleased in the end."
Newcastle legend Alan Shearer said on BBC Radio that the support of the Magpies faithful was proof that Benitez is starting to turn the team around.
"It's taken Benitez a while to know his players, to understand his players. [Aleksandar] Mitrovic is out, [Jonjo] Shelvey is out, they're out for a reason, they've not given enough to the team," Shearer said.
"The one thing that stood out for me was the atmosphere. The crowd's reaction towards the players where they gave them a round of applause. There's a little bit of hope now when there wasn't a few weeks ago.
"They should have got Rafa in a bit earlier and I don't think we would be in the position we are now."