Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles believes Rafa Benitez’s decision to change his goalkeeper prior to the win over Manchester United was fully vindicated after Martin Dubravka’s heroic debut.
Benitez made the difficult decision to drop Karl Darlow and hand Dubravka his first taste of Premier League football in such a crucial match following his loan move from Sparta Prague at the end of the January transfer window
The 29-year-old repaid the Spaniard’s faith with a man-of-the-match performance and a clean sheet that formed the basis of one of the shock results of the campaign after Matt Ritchie struck in the 65th minute to condemn Jose Mourinho’s superstars to a humbling defeat.
Lascelles feels Benitez was ultimately proven right to drop close friend Darlow despite a solid display against Crystal Palace the week prior and heaped praise on Slovakia international Dubravka.
“Darlow has been fantastic for us in the last couple of games and he has kept us in it and got points,” the Magpies skipper told the Chronicle.
The manager has put in a new goalkeeper and in all fairness he was ready.
“Martin was talking his way through the game and he was a confident keeper. It’s a great way for him to make his debut.
“The rest of us can’t thank him enough for the saves that he made.”
Newcastle will hope Dubravka can reproduce that level of performance for the rest of the season with Darlow and Rob Elliot facing a huge battle to reclaim the number one shirt.