Rafa Benitez impressed with 'very good' Liverpool during Newcastle defeat
Rafa Benitez said he was impressed with Liverpool's defending during Newcastle United defeat at Anfield on Saturday, and that his former club's investments are displaying their value.
Benitez's Newcastle frustrated Liverpool for 40 minutes until Mohamed Salah's opening goal, while they restricted Jurgen Klopp's side to just three shots on target in total during the 2-0 loss.
Newcastle themselves could only manage to register two shots toward Loris Karius' goal. However, Liverpool manager Klopp said Karius' full-stretch save to deny Mohamed Diame was a game-changing moment.
"Three [shots] on target, I was surprised," Benitez said. "We wanted to be strong in defence and create more in counter-attack.
"We couldn't do it, why? Because we have a very good team in front of us. We got into some good positions and we were running full pace, but still we couldn't beat them."
In January, Liverpool moved to acquire Virgil van Dijk from Southampton, with his £75 million transfer fee making him the most expensive defender in world football.
Benitez, who has been outspoken about Newcastle's lack of investment in the transfer market this season, added: "When you pay money you pay money not just because of their technical ability.
"It's the quality, the decisions and the physicality. Everything that is the difference between teams.
"[We had] to make sure we had good control and then play counter attack. We were not a real threat in the first half but we were controlling the game so they didn't have clear chances, just at the end a corner situation -- nothing else.
"We were happy with that, but we were still not very happy [overall] because we have to create more."
Glenn is ESPN FC's Liverpool correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter: @GlennPrice94.