Rafa Benitez: Two-goal Newcastle striker Salomon Rondon can still improve

RAFA BENITEZ thinks there is still more to come from Newcastle United’s match-winner Salomon Rondon.

Rondon scored twice to help the Magpies climb up to 14th in the Premier League by recording consecutive wins with a 2-1 win over Bournemouth at St James’ Park.

The Venezuelan striker, on loan from West Brom, scored for the first time in the league for the Magpies following his switch and his overall performance was excellent from start to finish.

Bournemouth struggled to cope with his power and presence and he took his goals well. His seventh minute predatory finish was followed by a powerful header from Kenedy’s cross six minutes before the break.

“I am really pleased with him,” said Benitez. “He’s strong and still he can improve. He will be better physically if he keeps training well, he can do even better.

“We knew about the conditions to sign him, for this price to get a striker of this experience in the Premier League is not easy.

“We knew his mentality. We knew he could give us something different.

“One hundred per cent the fans were behind us. They knew the importance. They appreciate the commitment of the players. That is the key. If we keep united, we will be stronger.”

Rondon’s first was when he reacted to turn in the rebound after Asmir Begovic had saved his initial shot following DeAndre Yedlin’s fine run and cross.

Then with six minutes remaining of the half he moved ahead of Nathan Ake to power in an unstoppable header from Kenedy’s brilliant delivery from the left after a fine crossfield pass from Ki Sung-yueng.

Bournemouth made a game of it and pulled one back in the sixth minute of added time at the end of the first half through Jefferson Lerma’s header.

That set up an intriguing second half when both teams had chances. Begovic and Martin Dubravka had to make strong saves.

Rondon almost had his hat-trick in the dying stages when his effort was turned wide for a corner. His impressive performance was almost ruined late on when he reacted to a cynical Lewis Cook challenge. Both players received cautions and Newcastle marched on.

But Newcastle had already done enough to win for the second match in a row – and only the second time this season – to climb back out of the relegation zone following Cardiff’s win over Brighton earlier in the day.

Cherries boss Eddie Howe, whose side remain sixth despite the defeat, said: “We did not perform well in the first half and I am disappointed with that.

“We gave ourselves a mountain to climb but we did keep going right until the end and it felt like a goal was coming but we just couldn’t force it.”

On the first half injury which left Adam Smith needing to be stretchered off, when he fell to the floor having merely pretended to take a quick free-kick, Howe added: “It looks serious, I have spoken to Adam and he thought it was from an earlier tackle which has left his knee unstable.”

NEWCASTLE (4-4-2): Dubravka; Yedlin, Schar, Fernandez, Dummett; Ritchie (Hayden 74), Diame (Atsu 79), Ki, Kenedy (Clark 77); Perez, Rondon. Subs (not used): Darlow (gk), Manquillo, Murphy, Joselu.

BOURNEMOUTH (4-4-1-1): Begovic; Francis, Cook, Ake, Smith (Daniels 30); Fraser, Lerma (Gosling 46), Cook, Ibe (Defoe 82); Brooks; Wilson. Subs (not used): Boruc (gk), Surman, Pugh, Mousset.