Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez says striker Salomon Rondon proved his No 9 qualities after his match-winning contribution against Bournemouth on Saturday.

Rondon’s double steered Newcastle to a 2-1 win at St James’ Park, with their second successive victory lifting them up to 14th in the Premier League table.

The goals were Rondon’s first in the league for Newcastle, with the West Brom loanee having failed to find the net in his first six games.

Benitez praised the Venezuelan for his man-of-the-match display, but admitted he must still work on his fitness if he is to remain Newcastle’s first-choice striker.

“He did well,” Benitez told Sky Sports. “We know he has to improve his match fitness, but he was doing really well, working hard and trying to fight with the defenders and give some time to the rest of the players coming to support him.

“That was pretty good. He showed what he can do, and has given us something different. I was happy with Joselu, Ayoze and Muto but he’s a different kind of striker. It’s always good that kind of competition for us.”

Rondon opened the scoring after just seven minutes, turning in a rebound after Asmir Begovic had parried his initial effort.

The second, an unstoppable header 40 minutes in, gave Newcastle daylight, and though Jefferson Lerma got one back before half-time, Bournemouth failed to find an equaliser after the break.

Asked if the first half was Newcastle’s best 45 minutes this season, Benitez replied: “We have done really well in some games, but that was one of the best, yes. The mentality and way they were competing for every ball was quite good.

“The first win was crucial for the confidence of the team, and the second win was more important, so hopefully we can carry on winning those games.”

 

Michael Hincks